Assurances that counseling, treatment and other programs will be integral, Petaluma's city council unanimously approved a 25-unit tiny house village to shelter to some of the city's chronically homeless Monday night.
Addressing the council, Assistant City Manager Brian Cochran said the village is just one avenue. Petaluma, he said, is working on many fronts, including aggressive pursuit of affordable housing, additional shelter funding, street teams and mobile showers. He says the city is also collaborating with county officials on re-purposing a motel through the state's Project Homekey.
"This isn't the end, this really is just one piece of our housing and homelessness program."
Karen Shimizu, Petaluma's housing manager, listed some of the particulars about the units, to be supplied by Rohnert Park-based firm, QuickHaven Transitional Shelters.
"The price per unit is $12,000. It's 72 square feet of living space, it's easily cleaned, there's minimal site prep that's needed to stand the unit up and it has a 40-amp service. The walls have an R-value of 21, and the ceiling has an R-value of 29, so that insulation really helps with climate control and soundproofing. We also found, that this unit, because of the way it was structured and the design, that it has a lower annual maintenance and operational cost."
While some councilmembers raised questions about the conceptual layout and operational details, such as the lack of a communal kitchen, support was overwhelming and unanimous. Several local volunteer groups have stepped forward offering to help build the structures.
Councilmember Kevin McDonnell said he hopes the support isn't ephemeral. "We have to remember that this is only one of the paths that we'll need to be taking. And I hope that people are just as enthusiastic when there's a Homekey project in their neighborhood and we just saw in Rohnert Park where they proposed converting a closed school and people came out of the woodwork, we want to make sure that all of our hearts in the right places tonight are still in the right place when it's a different and tougher decision on the next component of homelessness."