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Sonoma County is building more permanent housing for unhoused people

Homeless encampment in Fresno
Flickr / Creative Commons
Homeless encampment in Fresno

According to Sonoma County’s latest Point in Time count–which is the county’s measurement of its homeless population–the number of unhoused and unsheltered people has gone down in the last two years. It’s one of the few Bay Area counties to see a decrease in its unhoused population.

Whether that’s a direct result of county efforts to provide housing and shelter to unhoused folks, or if it’s just because of the Point in Time count is unclear.

The county did create about 400 beds last year and has been proactive in providing shelters. They say their goal is to reach “functional zero”–or to completely eliminate homelessness in the county.

In support of this goal, on Tuesday, Sonoma County supervisors voted unanimously to close two temporary shelters and replace them with larger and more permanent housing sites.

Dave Kiff, Sonoma County’s Homelessness Division Director told KALW that they are actively placing people in longer term housing as it’s available, and that no one will be back on the streets during this transition. But Anne Falandes, the founder and president of “Homeless Action Sonoma,” told KALW that people currently living at the temporary shelters have no place to go while the permanent housing sites are being built.

Converting the sites will cost about $3 million, with about an equal annual cost to maintain them. The permanent dwellings are expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.