Supervisors Pass Rodota Trail Plan, Hear Pleas from Trail Volunteers

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Sonoma County Supervisors on Monday passed an aggressive and unprecedented package of actions to address the homeless crisis on the Joe Rodota Trail.

In its entirety, the package could cost taxpayers over 11.5 million dollars, and would link new housing options with the established homeless services system already operating in Sonoma County.  Many of the options would be launched in the next 100 days.

Among the plans approved were the purchase of up to 6 multi-bedroom housing units at an estimated cost of $5 million, a so called congregate housing plan that would allow existing homeless communities to live together in a supportive environment.  County staff said they were ready to make offers on at least four houses. Some of that money could be diverted to additional indoor-outdoor shelters.

Also approved was the leasing of up to 7 units that would serve 20 individuals, and would allow non profit partners to directly rent housing on behalf of homeless individuals.  The estimated cost would be $750 thousand per year.

The package would also increase substance abuse and mental health outreach to the homeless, and ramp up additional wrap around services including 15 additional treatment beds.

And the plan would provide for at least two and perhaps more indoor-outdoor shelter sites in the county to provide food, heat, sanitation, security and other services while accommodating up to 80 individuals, at a cost of about $2 million per year.  No sites have been decided as of yet. In the meantime, additional health services would be provided at the trail encampment, like rodent control, more bathrooms and hand washing stations, and trash services.

At the meeting, a variety of volunteers who are now assisting residents of the trail pleaded with the Board to be included in any actions moving forward.  Other speakers offered housing plans such as tiny home villages they claimed would cost less, be available more quickly, and house more people than the county’s plan.   The board agreed to accept proposals from the community beginning in the first week of the New Year.

While speakers pushed for community imput and a rapid response to the crisis, some supervisors expressed frustration at what they viewed as a too-slow timeline for ramping up help for those currently living in the cold.

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