Officials Pledge Compassion, Services in Upcoming Homeless Sweeps

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Tackling the long standing and difficult issue of homelessness was the focus of a Santa Rosa city gathering Monday evening.

Santa Rosa city and community officials held a public meeting to share details of upcoming actions that will clear homeless encampments by late July in several places across the city, including the Prince Memorial Greenway and under highway 101.

The city’s Homeless Encampment Assistance Pilot Program, or HEAP is an effort to bring a compassionate approach to dealing with gatherings of homeless individuals across the city.  The approach assembles a team from service providers like Catholic Charities, various city departments and law enforcement in an attempt to get those living outside into shelter and services first, before law enforcement action is taken.

The approach has been used at city encampments before, including at the Farmer’s Lane Extension and Doyle Community Park, and officials say the approach has seen success.   The city claims 50% of homeless campers have accepted offers of services, shelter and housing.

At this meeting, homeless advocates brought signs suggesting the city sweeps of encampments were immoral and an effort to criminalize homelessness.  For their part, city officials, Santa Rosa police, and a Catholic Charities representative told those gathered that the goals of the program were simply to offer needed services, while at the same time insure that the encampments do not disrupt the neighborhoods in which they arise.


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