Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
July 27, 2021
Safe Places: Reimagining Home.
At a time when local decision-makers are under increasing pressure to use state and federal funding for homeless facilities and services, we believe that an open discussion must occur concerning what best assists those on the street. In Sonoma County, successes with sanctioned villages operated by Santa Rosa and the County (tents at a large local park, and cabins at a converted youth camp) have opened eyes and wallets. The Virus and community questioning have convinced the City to re-bid its shelter contract, and the Sonoma County Continuum of Care to re-bid its Coordinated Entry contractor's use for placement in shelters.
Is it time to admit that Safe Ground, Safe Parking, and Safe Rooms are a much better set of facilities to respond to the lack of permanent housing than shelters? State funding for non-congregate, Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) facilities has been the standard for Safe Room facilities (Roomkey and Homekey). Local funding for Safe Parking is currently being planned. The Legislature just passed a large new pilot program to encourage and explore sanctioned encampments. HEAP and HHAP funding from the State has failed in most attempts to build and sustain shelters.
Recent housing code and permitting is encouraging small unit development (ADU/JDUs), and federal increases in housing vouchers are opening doors from the street to permanent housing. Finally, we are finding practical solutions which respond to homeless, and gaining institutional recognition of the dangers of congregate, under-staffed shelters.