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Wait times for shelters vary depending on individual or family circumstances and the availability of shelter beds. People seeking shelter should call 2-1-1 or visit 211sonoma.org, 24/7 for information and referral services.
There are numerous non-profit and faith-based organizations, and advocacy groups serving the homeless in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. Annually, the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless compiles a comprehensive Sonoma County Homeless Resource Guide available online or as a pocket-sized edition. Listings include free and low-cost services to help people struggling with homelessness to find shelter, food, health care, financial assistance, permanent housing, employment, disability services, and more.
I.) Declaration of Shelter Crisis: A declaration of shelter crisis will make it easier to waive certain health and safety and zoning rules if the City decides to use public property to create additional shelter for the homeless.
II.) Declaration of Local Emergency: In declaring a local emergency, the City Council has proclaimed that the level of homelessness in Santa Rosa constitutes a local emergency, along the same lines as safety issues that could be created by a natural disaster. This step allows the City of Santa Rosa to potentially lift zoning or public safety restrictions on private property owners – such as churches or private property owners – seeking to serve the homeless.
III.) Request for Gubernatorial State of Emergency Proclamation: By writing a letter to Governor Jerry Brown requesting that he declare a state of emergency on homelessness in California, the City Council wishes to shed light on this issue not only locally, but also statewide. Furthermore, the City Council hopes this action will potentially open the door for state funding to help tackle this community health and safety concern.
On October 11, pursuant to the City’s authority under the declaration of local homeless emergency, the Council approved an interim Community Homeless Assistance Program (CHAP), establishing guidelines for use of private property for safe parking, safe camping, the placement and maintenance of portable toilets and access to existing bathroom facilities, the provision of temporary overnight shelter, and storage for personal belongings. The intent of CHAP is to foster community solutions through cross sector collaborations with the goal of reducing the impacts of homelessness on the community and to better serve persons experiencing homelessness. The CHAP guidelines are available on the Homeless Services Page.
How about the encampments at the 5th, 6th, and 9th Street underpasses?
Police, Public Works, and the Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) have been coordinating regular clean-ups of the 5th, 6th, and 9th street underpasses, and have recently begun stepping up these efforts.
Or the encampment at Farmers Lane and Bennett Valley Road?
This is one of the oldest and largest homeless encampments in Santa Rosa. The Police Department is very aware of the issues in the area and has taken extensive steps to address them through a partnership with HOST. Police and HOST have recently increased outreach and enforcement and will continue to monitor the encampment moving forward. Our ultimate goal is to find permanent housing for those living in the area and to clean all of the debris out of the area. This is, however, an extensive process, and the City is working not to just push those living at the encampment to other areas of the City. Please feel free to contact Lieutenant John Snetsinger directly at (707) 543-3635 for more information about Police efforts at this particular encampment. Also please do not hesitate to call the Police Department to report suspicious or criminal activity in the area at (707) 528-5222.
Beginning July 2016, the Downtown Enforcement Team was expanded to six officers and a dedicated Sergeant for the team, providing for expanded coverage and presence in the downtown. DET works closely with HOST to coordinate efforts in the downtown.
With regards to panhandling, the Chamber of Commerce and Catholic Charities have approached the City to use parking meters as a means to raise awareness about homelessness and to give people the option of making a donation to programs that help the homeless instead of giving money to panhandlers. IPS, the company the City has contracted with for new parking meters, has a philanthropic program where they donate new credit card enabled parking meters to be used to collect donations. The Chamber has submitted an application to IPS and is working with the City on determining the best locations for the donations meters.
For a comprehensive listing of community organizations please check out the Sonoma County Homeless Resource Guide or contact the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County.
The Task Force also coordinates a Winter Warmth program which accepts donations of life-saving survival gear year-round. The City is working diligently to address homelessness in our community.
For more information please check out our Homeless Services Page.