CELEBRATING OUR PROGRESS

Here are a few highlights of what the Task Force has accomplished since we came together in 1981 to end homelessness in Sonoma County and assist our neighbors who have lost their homes.

HELPED BUILD THE HOMELESS SHELTER & SERVICE SYSTEM

Task Force leadership and support helped initiate our county’s first shelter, the former SCPEO (now Community Action Partnership S0noma – CAPS) Pomo Trail; Catholic Charities Family Support Center & Samuel L. Jones Hall; the HCA Homeless Assistance Fund (CAPS); The Court Homeless Protocol re-entry program (California Human Development); & the Health Care for the Homeless Collaborative, which expanded Catholic Charities & COTS Medical Respite Programs, designed and secured funding for the new Santa Rosa Community Health Center Care Transitions Program, & helped develop Integrated Health Access . It helped create & implement the county’s 10-Year Homelessness Action Plan, and provides crucial funding to local services through the federal Emergency Food & Shelter Program and our own Fund for the Homeless.

PROMOTED COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE, PARTICIPATION & LINKAGES

Convened four countywide conferences enlisting the whole community to end homelessness. Holds monthly public General Meetings; publishes the Reporter Newsletter & our comprehensive Website, Advocates on policy, legislation, projects & funding; Provides speaking, Media appearances & articles; highlight community achievements with Spirit Awards; & supported formation of the Continuum of Care.

VITAL RESEARCH

Conducted the first demographic study on local Homelessness (1986 ? a model used by Stanford University), as well as the county?s HUD-required Point-In-Time Homeless Counts in 2005 and 2007.

COUNTYWIDE DIRECT HOMELESS SERVICES

Produce and Distribute Homeless Resource Guides, Assure Free Voicemail Boxes and operate the Winter Warmth countywide survival gear clearinghouse.

CREATING OUR FUTURE

Most of the activities above continue. Current efforts include:

EXPAND OPPORTUNITIES FOR SHARED HOUSING & AFFORDABLE HOMES

Help secure vacant and/or foreclosed properties for permanent affordable homes, especially Permanent Supportive Housing; Disseminate Advocacy & Community Acceptance strategies to support housing solutions.

CONTINUE TO BUILD OUR HEALTH ACCESS SYSTEM

Continue the Health Care for the Homeless Collaborative, interdisciplinary client conferencing process, and further integrate health, mental health, substance abuse, and homeless services; collaborate among hospitals, clinics, mental health, substance abuse, and homeless programs to fill service gaps.

ASSURE EMERGENCY FOOD AND SHELTER

Secure and administer federal funding to local agencies for survival services for homeless families and individuals. Support community efforts to assure adequate shelter.

ADVOCATE & EDUCATE

Strengthen local leadership & advocacy through knowledge & collaboration. Make sure all of us, especially the next generation, know that.

What’s New at the Sonoma County Task Force For the Homeless
September 22, 2014

Emergency Food and Shelter – Winter Crisis: We’re facing another crisis this winter.  Last fall the Task Force convened people and groups countywide, deeply concerned about the estimated 10,000 people who become homeless at some point annually, especially the c.3300 now living outside for lack of affordable homes and shelter space. 26% of our homeless residents are under 24.  67% have a serious medical condition or disability. “Homeless Action!”, the grassroots group we helped to convene began meeting independently and has been successful in offering and supporting solutions like shelter expansions, warming centers, religious congregation involvement, and a safe parking program.

The Board of Supervisors has acted on many of these and other solutions that help alleviate homelessness and its impacts. The Sheriff and Board of Supervisors adjusted the ordinance that prohibits sleeping in cars, as had the City of Santa Rosa, and people can now shelter in registered, legally parked vehicles in these areas. Santa Rosa’s approval of S.A.Y.’s Dream Center will provide a vital alternative for youth, though Sonoma County has now been designated as having the highest proportion of homeless youth under age 24 of any non-­urban county in the USA.

The Task Force is supporting affordable housing solutions, winter emergency services, safe parking, and sanctioned encampments.  We host monthly public General Meetings the  first Monday of every month from 9:30-11am at the First United Methodist Church, 1551 Montgomery in Santa Rosa, in the McMullin Room.  All are welcome.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Funding:  The Task Force administers federal funds that originate with FEMA in the Dept. of Homeland Security. We were able to provide $50,000 to eight Sonoma County agencies for 2013, the least in 20+ years. Yet homelessness and hunger are still high. EFSP was cut 5% nationally for 2013. We’re now overseeing the application process for 2014 funds that will be distributed once we know our allocation.

Health Care for the Homeless: The Task Force convenes the Health Care for the Homeless Collaborative (HCHC), our hospitals, clinics, ambulance, substance abuse, mental health and homeless services filling service gaps and ensuring access to integrated care.  We’ve helped grow the Brookwood Health Center; launch Catholic Charities Respite Program (13 beds for recuperative post-­hospital care); assist COTS to improve their Respite facility (5 beds); and initiate the Care Transitions Program for people with complex medical and social issues.

We’re working now on a serial inebriate program based on a national Best Practice to stabilize people who languish in emergency rooms and don’t receive needed drug treatment, and to free scarce resources for other needs.  The Drug Abuse Alternatives Center has a 4­6-hour hold program, and moves clients into 30­ day detoxification, and then residential treatment to stabilize heavy users of health services. We’re working now with law enforcement and the courts to move more people into treatment.

Homeless Resource Guides: The expanded 2013­14 English and Spanish editions of this popular pocket Guide produced by Operations Manager Fawn Moran is nearly complete.  We’ve now received enough in grants ad donations to go to print, and copies will be available by early November.  It includes links to agency websites and to Google maps for agency addresses.

Winter Warmth:  The 2013-­14 program distributed just over 5000 coats, jackets, blankets, sleeping bags rain gear, tents backpacks, hygiene supplies, new socks and underwear, and more via 34 programs countywide from October to July.  We’re opening again in October and are requesting donations of jackets, gloves, hats, sleeping bags,blankets,  tarps, tents, flashlights & batteries, and all forms of rain and cold weather gear.  Over 80% of our homeless residents remain unsheltered!!

Many thanks to the County Department of Health Services and Director Rita Scardaci for donating our storage and distribution space, and Thanks to Our Wonderful Volunteers & Donors of These Desperately Needed Items! Check out our WW video on our website.

Advocacy:  Our Advocacy efforts support policies, projects and legislation that help to end homelessness and assist those who’ve lost their homes. Recently we’ve been offering input to the County’s and cities’ Housing Element revisions, and encouraging local communities to assist the over 3300 people now forced to live outside for lack of shelter or housing.  We supported the Use of State Cap and Trade funds to create affordable homes near transit, and inclusion of affordable housing funds in the State Budget.  Both of these have come to pass with $1.3 ­ $5 Million of Cap and Trade proceeds designated annually to transit­-oriented affordable homes, and $200 Million in the State General Fund for multi­family and supportive homes – the first time affordable housing has been included in the budget.

We’re working to support AB1733 to waive fees for California ID documents for homeless people. We’re working with the National Coalition for the Homeless and other advocates to preserve Housing Choice Vouchers and adequate funding for HUD and the Emergency Food and Shelter funding that the Task Force administers. And this year we helped launch “Homeless Action!”, ­ a new grassroots advocacy group.

Housing: There’s a huge local need for homes for people with very low incomes. We work with lenders and landlords to expand availability of affordable and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), with services for homeless people with disabilities. Funds to rehabilitate or construct affordable homes are still in very short supply. We continue to work with our community partners on ways to make homes available for homeless people to rebuild their lives.

Public General Meetings: The Task Force has convened regular public meetings for over three decades. Our General Meetings are community-­wide forums where we work together on common issues.  They provide a pathway for many organizations and individuals to get more deeply involved in ending local homelessness.  We meet on the first Monday of each month from 9:30–11am at the First United Methodist Church, 1551 Montgomery Dr in Santa Rosa.

Reporter  Newsletter – Our most recent edition came out in June. We publish in spring and fall, along with e­mail bulletins to keep you informed.  Issues are archived on this website.

The Task Force Depends on YOU!  Our community has sustained us through donations, memberships, events and bequests since 1981, with a few project ­specific grants along the way, usually shared with other agencies. The Task Force has two part time staff, our Executive Officer at .67 time, and our .5 time Operations Manager, a collegial and active Board, Dedicated Volunteers, and YOUR VITAL SUPPORT! THANK YOU!!

TO GET INVOLVED, PLEASE CONTACT: Georgia Berland, Executive Officer, 431-­7559 or gberland@aol.com for Housing, Health Care for the Homeless, Emergency Food and Shelter, Advocacy, Newsletter, Website (content & design), Planned Giving, General Meetings, Collaborative Programs, and Board,

OR

Fawn Moran, Operations Manager, at 575­4494 or sctfhmls@pacbell.net for Resource Guide, Winter Warmth, October in Paradise and other Events, Website (technical oversight, content,  donations), Operations, and to Volunteer or Donate.