Homeless Housing in California is getting very complex. With almost $2 billion in the 2019 and 2020 state budgets being distributed at state and local levels to provide emergency, temporary, and permanent housing and supportive services, there’s a lot to keep up with.
The Google Blog below contains posts that contain links to news articles and websites which make it easier to learn about what the impact of these efforts are:
Landmark Injunction Offers Protection to Homeless Individuals and Their Property
An 18-month-long lawsuit by Santa Rosa homeless people and activists in San Francisco federal court entered a truce this morning, as the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County agreed to implement many of the activists’ demands for one year. Among other changes, the immediate seizure and destruction of homeless people’s personal belongings by law enforcement and other public servants will stop.
The government also agreed to make enforcement of homeless-focused laws include the provision of reasonable accommodations for disabled homeless people in humane, safe shelter. In his order, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria noted that, “future enforcement actions against homeless people in Sonoma County might be restricted by the absence of adequate shelter.”
When the yearlong experiment ends, the parties will either make a more detailed agreement, or square off in court again.
This order will help prevent the criminalization of homeless people, which only makes it harder for them to get off the streets.
“I’m dedicating this success to Deborah Drake, a homeless woman who lived with cancer,” said Adrienne Lauby, a founding member of Homeless Action! “Ms Drake joined the lawsuit and testified at our first hearing because she wanted something better for homeless people. She was fortunate enough to be given a room where she died with some dignity.”
The agreement includes the assertion that, “For some people (particularly those with certain mental health conditions), a barracks-style placement may not be adequate based on their individual circumstances.” Given that, generally, the only open beds in Sonoma County are in that type of shelter, activists are hopeful that other options can and will be arranged.
The injunction, which takes effect on August 12, applies to park rangers of the Sonoma County Regional Parks, the parks and recreation departments of the City and the County, the Santa Rosa Police Department and other governmental agencies, contractors or departments that provide services to homeless individuals. The agreement does not include the Sonoma County Sheriff and his deputies.
“We don’t know why the Sheriff chose not to be part of this agreement,” said Homeless Action! member Scott Wagner, “We hope the Sheriff will follow the lead of the Santa Rosa Police and to take similar steps. We’ll be asking to talk to them.”
“Nicholle Vannucci, Ellen Brown and Shannon Hall, homeless and formerly homeless people who joined this suit, acted courageously and with great commitment to stand up for the homeless community,” Gregory Fearon, Homeless Action! member said. “I’m so proud to be associated with them.”
We’ll be celebrating at NY Pie Pizzeria tomorrow, Saturday, July 13 at 5 pm, 65 Brookwood Ave, Santa Rosa. Everyone is welcome.
“We’re happy the city and county understood the human rights issue and have been acting in good faith,” Lauby said. “There are benchmarks and specific procedures to develop but this means a change for the better.”
Monday, July 8, 5:30 pm City Council Chambers, 100 Santa Rosa Ave.
HEAP, the doublespeak horror named “the Homeless Encampment Assistance Pilot Program” is kicking off a round of homeless camp sweeps. They intend to focus on communities on the Prince Memorial Greenway, Olive Park, Morgan Street and the Highway 101 underpasses. Homeless Action! is calling on all residents of Santa Rosa to stand behind our homeless neighbors. Like all of us, homeless people need the presence of friends. Attend this kick-off to say “No Sweeps” and demand legal places where homeless people can stay.
Here’s a map of Santa Rosa with the locations of the publicly-accessible 24-hour toilets. Use the “+” and “-” on the bottom left , plus the mousepad and cursor to move the map around, and zoom in to look for the placemarks which mark the locations.
Don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding any. We’re still looking too.
About 15 people in our weekly Homeless Action! meeting did a 20 minute brainstorming exercise on the question, “If we were in the decision-making position for the HEAP grants, how would we prioritize the money?” We thought you might be interested in the result. Adrienne
1) MOST IMPORTANT Renewed Hope Get it done! (cheapest cost – largest outcome) Ground up! Immediate, Imminent…tent, safe parking, villages…progressive stages of housing. Get homeless people Out of The Elements. Ask “How Many? How Fast?” Fund what serves the most people in the shortest time. Time is of the Essence
2) FUND PROJECTS WITH SOME OR ALL OF THESE THINGS (in no particular order) A Path to Permanence Office/desk space for homeless guests where they can pull their paperwork together Improvement in Income and Benefits (such as General Assistance) Data showing improved Mental and Physical Health Measures of success in ‘soft’ areas, well-being in addition to paths to housing. Measures of clear outcomes rather than process measures. (ie number of people sheltered for more than 6 months vs number of people served.) Self-Satisfaction Surveys for homeless guests Data on number of involuntary exits per month and number of appeals per month. (Fund those with low numbers.) Lack of barriers, low barriers to services. Peer training so that homeless people learn good ways to stay in shelter and housing Clear timelines and step-by-step goals…(In the way contractors are given conditions of contract) Clarity of detail and accountability Inclusive secular daily recovery groups Meals as part of the service Number of people who are given intensive case management or other counseling (intensive = more than 2 X a week) Post-management work for Community Development Commission (CDC). Technical Advisory Committee and Leadership Council direct CDC to manage programs as a partnership, rather than top down business-management approach in order to get the best bang for the buck in everything that is funded.
Adrienne Homeless Action! Member (707) 795-2890 home landline
Yesterday, I realized that there were three words which pretty much defined the core of my homeless advocacy. And they were the exact goals that were described in greater verbiage throughout federal and state guidelines. They formed the basis of the conversations I was having with my homeless friends, city and nonprofit agency staff, or lawyers and judges. We were all trying to improve the access, security, and opportunities for those without a permanent place to live.
We’ve seen the impact of NIMBYism restrict affordable housing development, and turn an element of the American dream into a nightmare. Lately, the alarming lack of access to permanent housing has found a voice in the public dialogue, and public incentives to the housing development community are being adopted to reverse the trend.
But reducing the price of housing isn’t all we need to do to address homelessness. An equally-important issue facing us is how we provide security in living environments for all people now. Judicial and governmental rulings recognizing the rights and value of a place to sleep, denied only through leaseholder-like violations, are the new standards called for in the State and Federally-adopted Housing First.
Finally, the full understanding of the personal barriers facing episodic and chronic homeless in their acquisition and retention of permanent housing has reinforced our convictions that we must fully integrate service and benefit opportunities into any solutions we implement.
In the implementation of HEAP, and any other initiatives we undertake to improve our efforts to address homelessness, we have to make sure we are providing full and fair access to our resources, are insuring the highest level of security against the loss of the living environments our clients obtain, and that we provide a wide variety and depth of opportunities to assist them to build self-sufficiency and self-improvement.
The European Federation of National Associations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) put forward the ETHOS typology in 2005.21 It classifies people who are homeless according to their living or ‘home’ situation: roofless (without a shelter of any kind, ‘sleeping rough’), houseless (with a place to sleep, but temporary in an institution or shelter), insecure (threatened with severe exclusion due to insecure tenancies, evictions, domestic violence) or inadequate (in caravans on illegal campsites, in unfit housing, in extreme overcrowding).
Roofless – on the street
Houseless – in shelters
Insecure – housed, but fragile tenancy
Inadequate – in cars, trailers, and over-crowded and unfit housing
The Point in Time Count should report how many homeless there are in Sonoma County in the four categories above, and how that compares with previous year counts. Types of Homelessness
Transitional or Situational – This is when someone is forced into homelessness because of uncontrollable circumstances such as losing a job, important material lost, lost of main breadwinner(father, husband, wife) etc.
Episodic – This is when a person repeatedly falls in and out of homelessness. This often happens with drug addicts and with people experiencing mental health issues. The person might live episodes of severe depression cyclical way and fall back in homelessness when these occur. Same for someone with drug abuse issues. The person may be able to stop consuming for certain periods of time and get off the street, while being at high risk of homelessness all the time.
Chronic – This is when an individual is in the street for a long period of time and very few or no resources are at their disposition to modify their situation. Often, these people will suffer from mental health issues. They won’t have the ability to modify their situation without the support of others. It is very rare that someone will be homeless all of his or her life on a voluntary basis.
The definition of ‘chronic homelessness’ that was adopted by the United States of America (USA)’s Federal Government and the Interagency Council on Homelessness among others reads as follows: ‘An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either a) been continuously homeless for a year or more OR b) has had at least 4 episodes of homelessness in the past three years’. Disabling conditions refer to mental health issues, alcohol and drug abuse, and medical comorbidities.
What has been the success of shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive service housing in reducing episodic homelessness?
How many disabled homeless with 4 or more episodes of homelessness in the period from 2012-2015 experienced an episode of homelessness during the period from 2015-2018? How many were homeless at the end of 2017-18?
What has been the success of existing shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive service housing in reducing chronic homelessness?
How many disabled homeless who were continuously homeless during the period from 2014-15 were still homeless at the end of each successive program year?
What has been the success of supportive services in retaining permanent housing?
How many homeless who were placed in permanent supportive housing in each of the program years from 2015-16 retained their housing for six months, 12 months?
What percentage those contacted by the outreach and navigation workers throughout the County over the past three years who were in transitional or situational homelessness are still homeless?
What evidence that our homeless facility and service expenditures have impacted the ability of those housed in our shelters, or placed in transitional or permanent housing, to improve their capability to avoid homelessness? Have their incomes increased? Have they achieved their own rental leases? Have they attended and completed rehabilitation programs? Are they receiving public benefits not enrolled in previously? Has their self-sufficiency by any measure improved?
Have we, or are we, working toward becoming capable of collecting this data or using these measures to decide how to develop effective solutions to achieving our goals?
For the last two months, a process for awarding grants to provide emergency aid to homeless and those at risk of being homeless was being put in place. A year in the design phase, a new joint powers agreement involving representatives from the County Board of Supervisors, the cities of Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and four members of their own Technical Advisory Committee, the Home Sonoma Leadership Council met last week to select its officers, review staff and community recommendations for grant program priorities, and request $12.1 million in up to five budget categories from the State.
As they deliberated, the State had already received applications from about a third of the counties, and they had begun the process of soliciting proposals from their communities to provide the emergency aid. HEAPA, a statewide organization providing research on the HEAP implementation, has released its first spreadsheet containing information about those early decisions by counties, contact information for applicants, and links to webpages which describe their decision-making processes.
The Sonoma County Homeless System of Care Leadership Council will meet on December 10th to give staff direction on, and authorize submission of, the application for $12.1 million in state funding “to address the emergency homelessness needs” of the county and cities in our area. On December 5th, the staff will release a report on the public comments submitted by the December 3rd deadline. Address for those comments to county staff is 1440 Guerneville Rd, Santa Rosa. Emails can be sent to Michael.Gause@sonoma-county.org.