On December 7, 2021, following the City’s issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP), City Council approved Catholic Charities as the Program operator.
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At a June 22, 2021 City Council Study Session, City Council directed staff to proceed with developing a program design for a Safe Parking Pilot Program (Program) to be operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7). The program will provide up to 50 parking spots in a portion of the City-owned parking lot at 55 Stony Point Road. The Program is meant to provide unsheltered individuals living in vehicles and RVs with direct access to basic services and support services to help individuals move from homelessness into housing, while lessening the impacts of homelessness that we have seen in several areas of our community. The Safe Social Distancing Program that was launched in a section of the parking lot at Finley Community Center in May 2020 was an overall success. The Safe Parking Pilot Program will be closely modeled after many elements of that program. On December 7, 2021, following the City’s issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP), City Council approved Catholic Charities as the Program operator.
A phased launch of the Program began on March 7, 2022. The Program will run for an initial one-year pilot period. Funding has been identified for a two-year period, however, continued operation of the Program for a second year will be based on whether the Program is meeting its intended goals and outcomes.
The parking lot at 55 Stony Point Road is on City-owned property and services City operations, including the Utilities Field Office, Water, Transit, and Transportation and Public Works. Leading up to Council’s site selection for the Program, City staff from various departments evaluated more than 100 locations throughout Santa Rosa for potential site-use for this Program. None of the sites were 100-percent ideal and City Council directed staff to proceed with an option where a 24/7 operation could best be implemented, on property owned by the City, where members of the community are least impacted. Staff initially proposed sites in each of the seven City Council districts per previous Council direction. Staff ultimately recommended starting with a single site, one-year pilot program; and evaluating the feasibility of scaling up to potentially include additional locations following the initial one-year pilot.
Notification was made on the City’s website, in the City Connections e-newsletter, and on the City’s social media accounts in advance of the June 22, 2021 and December 7, 2021 City Council meetings, at which time public input was taken. A media release was sent and updates provided on the City's social media accounts and NextDoor account in December 2021 following City Council approval of the operator contract and authorization of initial program funding. A virtual community meeting for residents and businesses within the area and other interested parties was held on January 12, 2022 prior to the launch of the program. Notification was made in advance of the community meeting by a postcard mailing to the surrounding neighborhood, in the City Connections newsletter, on the City’s social media accounts and NextDoor account, and media release. Updates on the Safe Parking Pilot Program are available at srcity.org/SafeParking.
Unlike a vehicle/RV encampment, the Program will be managed 24-hours a day, seven days a week by Catholic Charities and a private security company. Program participants will have access to essential services such as portable toilets and handwashing stations, refuse containers, and showers, which will mitigate many of the public health and safety impacts that occur in encampments. Catholic Charities will be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the site and ensuring that participants keep personal belongings to a reasonable minimum. Additionally, wrap around services will be provided to help participants access community resources (i.e., referrals for alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment and behavioral health) and to end their homelessness through housing navigation services.
City and County staff meet regularly to discuss solutions to address homelessness. The Sonoma County Department of Health Services Interdepartmental Multi-disciplinary Team (IMDT) will provide support to the Program to those eligible for services and as IMDT’s program capacity allows. Additionally during its December 7, 2021 meeting, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, approved $500,000 to the City for the Safe Parking Pilot Program to provide wrap-around services for a two-year period targeted on assisting individuals obtain housing.
Information on ways to help such as making donations or volunteering will be posted on the City’s website at srcity.org/SafeParking prior to implementing the Program in early 2022.
A.Catholic Charities will be responsible for Program management functions such as intake/exit of participants, coordination of services/case management, coordination of site services with third party vendors (i.e., security, portable toilets/handwashing stations, fencing, waste management, RV disposal service), ensuring compliance with Program rules, addressing any issues that arise in a timely manner, and maintaining the cleanliness of the site, for example.
Catholic Charities will be required to have COVID-19 safety protocols including screening at intake, on-going monitoring, testing/vaccination coordination, and a plan for addressing any participants that are symptomatic, exposed, or test positive for COVID-19.
The Program will provide basic services such as portable toilets/handwashing stations, showers, refuse containers, laundry service, and meals as well as wrap around services to connect participants with community resources and housing. The current focus is getting the site set-up to welcome participants in early 2022. Planning is also underway to develop a housing strategy for participants to ensure a continuum of services beyond their stay in the Program.
Yes. Details such as "quiet hours" and "code of conduct" will be part of Program Rules which will be developed prior to implementation of the Program.
Yes, vehicles/RVs need to be operational to enter the Program. Program Rules will include parameters around non-operational vehicles/RVs and towing for those that are on-site. Catholic Charities will prioritize assisting participants who are in need of a driver’s license given that ID is required to obtain housing, a key focus of the Program, followed by vehicle compliance (registration/insurance). Participants will be required to work with Catholic Charities on driver’s license and vehicle compliance to stay in the Program. Staff has researched best practices for Safe Parking programs and consulted with the City Attorney’s Office and Risk Management on these matters and will continue to do so should any issues arise. Additionally, Catholic Charities will be required to comply with the City’s insurance requirements.
Yes. Program rules will provide parameters on visitors to provide participants with flexibility while minimizing impacts to the parking lot which is shared with City employees and several departments as well as the nearby community.
City Council asked for up to 50 spots. Staff is currently evaluating a mix of vehicles/RVs for the site which will meet this request but does not exceed 50 spots and also takes into consideration the number of occupants.
Yes. The City cannot deny service animals. Program Rules are being developed to include a service animal/pet policy. The proposed site plan includes a pet area and pet waste bags will be provided to Program participants.
Common practice for emergency shelter is 6 months; however, length of stay will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind that the Program is a 1-year pilot.
Yes. An area will be designated for smoking and monitored by Catholic Charities.
The City will require the Program operator Catholic Charities to enter into an agreement which will include a budget, scope of work, and reporting requirements. Reports will be submitted monthly to the City. In addition to monthly reports, staff will also meet regularly with the Program operator. The reports are key to informing whether the Program met its planned goals and outcomes and will help inform continuing the Program beyond the initial one-year pilot.
24/7 site supervision will be provided by Catholic Charities staff and private security for the Program. Supervision/security will be focused on the Program footprint and not the entire parking lot, adjacent facilities, or nearby community. The City is currently evaluating additional security measures for the site including cameras at the Program site access points and monitoring facilities directly adjacent to the Program site.
Private security will be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first three operating months of the Program. After three months the need for security will be reevaluated on a month-to month basis. Providing security is very costly and City Council has expressed an interest in potentially scaling back security as a cost savings measure. City staff along with Catholic Charities will revisit security needs once the Program is up and running.
24/7 site supervision will be provided by Catholic Charities and a private security company for the Program. Based on the City’s experience with the Finley Safe Social Distancing Program, impacts to the surrounding area were minimal. That said, the City acknowledges that homelessness has impacted our community significantly for housed and un-housed community members. Public safety concerns in the area, regardless if they are connected to the Program, should be reported to the Police Department – non-emergency 707-528-5222 or 911 for urgent matters. All other concerns related to the Program should be directed to staff via email: [email protected].
Drugs and alcohol will not be allowed on the site. If an individual returns to the site under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the individual will be allowed on-site so long as their behavior does not present a threat to themselves or others. Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol will be reported by Catholic Charities to SRPD immediately.
24/7 site supervision will be provided via Catholic Charities and private security. Safety concerns will first be addressed by staff and/or security and elevated to the Police Department, if necessary. SRPD has played a key role in the development of the site and overall Program and will provide on-going support relative to other public safety priorities in the community.
Yes. Details such as a curfew will be part of Program Rules which will be developed prior to implementation of the Program. Flexibility will be provided to allow entry/exit after the curfew for emergencies, those that work overnight shifts, or other extenuating circumstances.
No. Routine searches of Program participants will not be conducted. If Catholic Charities and/or security observes suspicious behavior a search may be conducted subject to the consent of the Program participant. The Santa Rosa Police Department will be contacted in the event of criminal activity.
No. The law prohibits routine criminal background checks except under discrete circumstances (i.e., when an individual is detained by law enforcement). Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) has developed a rapport with many of the individuals residing in vehicle encampments throughout Santa Rosa and will be screening potential participants prior to placing them in the Program. This includes screening for sex offenders via California Megan’s Law website, which will not be allowed in the Program. Additionally, any individuals with a known history of violence will not be allowed in the Program.