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Addressing homelessness in Santa Rosa remains a top priority of the City Council, supported by $8.5 million in funding in 2023/24, including one-time Encampment Resolution Funding ($3.8M) for a three-year period. Two interdepartmental teams – the Homeless Action Team (HAT) and the City’s Encampment Team – coordinate the City’s response. Representatives from Police, Fire, Housing and Community Services, Transportation & Public Works, Water, City Manager’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, and the Communications & Intergovernmental Relations Department meet weekly and work together with community partners to provide outreach, emergency shelter, housing, and services to persons experiencing homelessness. The City also participates in Sonoma County’s Continuum of Care (CoC) program, a collaborative effort to ensure alignment with a broader regional strategy and leverage federal and state resources to end homelessness.
In November 2022, the City adopted a five-year Strategic Plan to address the critical concern of homelessness in Santa Rosa. The Homelessness Solutions Strategic Plan provides key strategies and actions to improve the City’s response to homelessness in alignment with the regional system of care, the Sonoma County Continuum of Care, with the ambitious goal of achieving “Functional Zero” homelessness in Santa Rosa by 2027. More information about homeless services provided by the City is available on the City’s website under Programs and Initiatives.
The homeless count conducted as part of the 2023 Sonoma County Point-In-Time Count showed a countywide 27-percent decrease in homelessness since 2015, from 3,107 individuals to 2,266 individuals. Most recently, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness countywide decreased by approximately 22% between 2022 and 2023 with a 30% decrease in Santa Rosa. More data on the outcomes of homeless services provided by the City is available on the City’s website under Data.
The City provides funding to support emergency shelters, safe parking, day services, and rental assistance for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. More information about programs and initiatives funded by the City is available on the City’s website under Programs and Initiatives.
If you are aware of someone in need of homeless services and shelter, please contact our contracted outreach services provider, the Homeless Services Outreach Team (HOST), at 707-978-8329 or [email protected].
Additional information on the Coordinated Entry system and county-wide emergency shelter details can be found at Sonoma County’s Homelessness Services website.
The City’s Encampment Team proactively addresses the health, safety, and environmental concerns associated with encampments. The Team is comprised of various City departments who work in coordination with the City’s contracted outreach provider, Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST). City protocols prioritize outreach and offering services to individuals residing in encampments prior to any enforcement action. While in-the-field, the Team evaluates health, safety, and environmental risks posed by the encampments; enforces laws where appropriate; removes trash/debris; and contacts HOST for individuals seeking services and shelter. Encampments that pose an immediate threat to health and safety are given the highest priority. More information about the City’s encampment resolution efforts is available on the City’s website under Encampment Resolution.
Encampments on private property are referred to the City’s Code Enforcement division and require cooperation of the property owner to resolve. Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) will enforce trespassing on private property, however, the property owner must have a “no trespassing” letter on file with SRPD. While not required, Code Enforcement and SRPD will coordinate with the Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) to offer services in advance of removing an encampment. To make a report of an encampment on private property, please contact the City's Code Enforcement division at [email protected], 707-543-3198, or submit a complaint.
The Ninth Circuit Court decision in Martin v. Boise prohibits cities from criminally enforcing camping restrictions on public property if there is no alternative shelter available for those facing enforcement. Consistent with this ruling, the City’s process to address encampments begins with a referral to the City’s contracted outreach provider, Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST), to offer services and shelter to individuals residing in an encampment prior to any enforcement action.
On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, the Santa Rosa City Council approved a recommendation by the Housing and Community Services Department that Council introduce an ordinance repealing and replacing Chapter 11-22 of the Santa Rosa City Code (Camping on Public Streets and Public Property). The decision followed the first reading of the proposed ordinance and a public hearing at which community members offered input on the proposed ordinance. The purpose of updating the ordinance is to eliminate a blanket ban on camping on public property to align with Martin v. City of Boise, a 2019 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and to establish standards for camping on public or private property that protect the health and safety of the community. Click here to read more.
Santa Rosa City Council approved the ordinance following a second reading at the Tuesday, August 22, 2023 Council meeting. The ordinance became effective on September 22, 2023.
For questions, concerns, or to report encampments on public property, please continue to email [email protected], submit the issue online, or call 707-543-3311. Homeless Services continues to coordinate the response by the City’s Encampment Team (which includes the Santa Rosa Police Department). To report an encampment on private property, please contact the City's Code Enforcement division at [email protected], 707-543-3198, or submit a complaint.
If you witness or know of other Illegal activity occurring, it should be reported to the Santa Rosa Police Department’s 24/7 non-emergency line at 707-528-5222. For urgent matters call 911.
Vehicles parked in the public right-of-way with expired registration or that are non-operable may be towed subject to staffing resources and the capacity of the City’s towing vendor. The City implemented a Safe Parking Program in March 2022 which provides up to 50 parking spaces for individuals living in their vehicles. While this does not meet the estimated need, it is a first step for the City in trying to address vehicle encampments, provide individuals a safe place to stabilize while seeking more permanent solutions, and to mitigate impacts to the broader community.
To submit a request regarding street parking signage, please use the online reporting and request tool My Santa Rosa. Street signs are listed in the category of “Streets & ADA.” Please be aware that the Traffic Engineering Department reviews areas for signage based on sight distance and other related concerns and cannot place signage solely for the purpose of limiting vehicle encampments.
Keep in mind that simply being homeless is not a crime and people experiencing homelessness have the same rights as everyone to be in public spaces. Some behaviors associated with homelessness may be unpleasant but are not illegal, while others may be illegal but difficult for police to enforce depending on the severity of the crime.
Law enforcement response to homeless-related calls for service is not always the most effective or appropriate intervention, which is why the Santa Rosa Police Department, in collaboration with community partners, developed the inResponse Mental Health Support Team, a multi-disciplinary mobile crisis intervention service that is integrated into the City’s public safety system. If you witness someone experiencing a mental health crisis in Santa Rosa, contact the inResponse Mental Health Support Team at 707-575-HELP (4357) for emergency/immediate response.
To report an encampment on public property, email [email protected], submit the issue online, or call 707-543-3311.
To report an encampment on private property, email [email protected], submit a complaint, or call 707-543-3198.
If you witness or know of illegal activity occurring, it should be reported to the Santa Rosa Police Department’s 24/7 non-emergency line at 707-528-5222. For urgent matters call 911. Calls for service will be prioritized based on urgency and available resources.
The best and most impactful way to help someone who is experiencing homelessness is to connect them to the services and options for shelter that are available to them. The City’s non-profit partners provide food, clothing, shelter, housing, and other supportive services to meet the immediate needs of homeless community members, and are committed to helping to solve the critical, ongoing issue of homelessness in Santa Rosa.
Make a referral to HOST: If you are aware of someone in need of homeless services and shelter, please contact the Homeless Services Outreach Team (HOST) at 707-978-8329 or [email protected]. This street outreach team funded by the City is operated by Catholic Charities to help engage unsheltered community members into shelter and services.
Donate to a Service Provider: The City’s non-profit partners provide food, clothing, housing, and other supportive services to community members who are experiencing homelessness. If you wish to help, please consider donating to one of these organizations, a partial list is available on the City's Resources webpage.
Be a Part of the Solution: Homelessness is a critical issue in our community and many others across the Bay Area and California. Managing the immediate crisis at hand while working towards solutions to end homelessness will require a coordinated, regional response with collaboration from all sectors of the community. To learn more and get involved, visit the City’s website, attend a Santa Rosa City Council meeting, or contact us with your ideas to increase community participation at [email protected].