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Sonoma County wants better plan for emergency homeless shelter

Chris Alexander pulls on his shoes at his cot in the Samuel L. Jones Hall Shelter, operated by Catholic Charities, in Santa Rosa on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Chris Alexander pulls on his shoes at his cot in the Samuel L. Jones Hall Shelter, operated by Catholic Charities, in Santa Rosa on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)


The county must come up with better emergency plans for housing the homeless during bad weather, Sonoma County supervisors said Tuesday.

The board approved a $179,750 package of proposals to add temporary cold weather bed space between now and the end of March and to help families get back into permanent homes on Tuesday, but members said they wanted to see better long-term planning by staff on how to deal with such emergencies.

Several supervisors suggested allowing homeless people to sleep in their vehicles in the parking lots at the county administration complex. Sleeping in vehicles in most places in the county has been banned by a series of recent ordinances.

“I think we need to have more flexibility” to find space for the homeless in severe weather, said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, “even if that means being in port-a-potties or having private security for that matter.”

Supervisor Shirlee Zane asked county staff to come back soon with specific cost estimates for using the parking lots and other county facilities as emergency housing.

“We have these massive vacant parking lots in these four blocks” after business hours, she said. “It is a shame we can’t put in a port-a-potty and hand washing station.”

Mark Krug, community development manager for the county Community Development Commission, told the supervisors that many of the county’s efforts to stop homelessness are oriented to longer-term issues, such as finding houses and supportive social and health care services for the chronically homeless.

The spike of cold weather in December highlighted the need for better planning and coordination for short-term needs, he said, like rapidly expanding temporary bed space to keep the homeless out of dangerous weather.

Board members asked him to consider a variety of related issues in drafting such plans, including how to provide bed space for people who are intoxicated or are accompanied by pets. Many time such people are turned away from shelters, staff said.

Chairman David Rabbitt praised the long-term efforts to help the homeless, but he said the county also should do its best to provide a temporary bed for everyone who needs one, particularly in bad weather.

“These other things are great,” he said, “but maybe we need to start with ‘safe and alive in the morning.’”

2 Responses to “Sonoma County wants better plan for emergency homeless shelter”

  1. bear says:

    Gee, how much went to nuclear weapons that can’t be used, the Defense Budget and their greedy contractors, unwinnable off-budget wars (ready for Iraq and Afghanistan 2.0?), or corporate tax cuts, subsidies and tax evasion?

    Who in your family is in the Armed Forces?

    You ought to get them the hell out.

  2. Follower says:

    The anniversary of LBJ’s “war on poverty” has shined a light on the nearly $20,000,000,000,000.00 spent with nothing to show for it.

    Twenty TRILLION dollars and the poverty level is about what it was.
    So what we have gotten for our $20,000,000,000,000.00 is some liberal doo-gooders feeling good about themselves for taking wealth from people who earned it and giving it too people who didn’t with absolutely NO CONCERN for actually “helping” people get out of poverty.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 worth of wealth, GONE.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 that didn’t go toward cancer research.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 that didn’t go toward developing alternative energy.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 that didn’t go toward maintaining our infrastructure.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 that didn’t go toward helping the environment.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 that didn’t go toward education.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 that didn’t go toward creating new jobs so the “poor” could have the ONLY opportunity there is to get OUT OF POVERTY!

    So we will quickly sweep this inconvenient truth under the carpet and “move on” with more failed programs.

    Maybe after we spend the NEXT $20,000,000,000,000.00 we will have finally beat poverty.

    I guess that’s what we now call “hope”.

    $20,000,000,000,000.00 worth!