Santa Rosa city officials took more action this week towards tackling homelessness. The Santa Rosa city council has unanimously agreed to apply for up to thirteen million dollars in grants from the state’s Homekey program. It’s also approved hiring a consultancy company called Focus Strategies to help the city figure out solutions.
Council member Tom Schwedhelm said the city needs to keep actively working on resolving homelessness.
"What we're hiring Focus Strategies to do is a process consultant." Schwedhelm told the council. "They're not coming here to fix our community. It's incumbent upon us. We're gonna come up with a plan and it's up to us. We need to be actively engaged and we need to keep it a priority."
The city is seeking the grant money in partnership with Sonoma County’s chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Spearheaded by former city council member Jack Tibbets.
Focus Strategies is a consultancy firm based in Walnut, California that works with communities on bespoke strategies to fight homelessness. Now the firm will help Santa Rosa develop a five year strategic plan and as Homeless Services Manager Kelli Kuykendall said, achieve quote “functional zero”.
"This is an approach that acknowledges that we're not going to end homelessness, that people will continue to fall into homelessness, but we will try to make sure that that experience with homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring." Kuykendall said.
Money from the city’s Homeless Fund reserve is paying for the Focus Strategies contract for at least six months at a cost of $100,000. There’s also an option to extend for another six months at the same cost if needed. Now that the Santa Rosa city council approved the contract Tuesday night, Focus Strategies will start right away on crafting an action plan to help the unsheltered in Santa Rosa.