Story Corps
City leaders prepare for a ceremonial ground-breaking
photo credit: Marc Albert/KRCB
Ground was broken Monday afternoon on a new housing project in Rohnert Park; 60 small units aimed at getting people in crisis off the streets. 
Jackie Elward is Rohnert Park's mayor.
"I am too excited to the point where my entire body is reacting, and it's a good thing," Elward said. "This project demonstrates that we are taking action to respond to one of our residents' top concerns." 
An estimated 100 people occupy an encampment beneath and adjacent to US 101 and Roberts Lake Park.
The plan is have the units ready for their first residents before year's end.
Elizabeth Funk, CEO of Dignity Moves, is part of the city's effort. 
"We want to create safe places where people are willing to come," Funk said. "Where they can have the privacy and dignity of their own room with a door that locks. We find that is so critical, first of all for them to be willing to come. Getting people to a place where they can really feel safe, and then start receiving the real magic, which is the supportive services."
Rohnert Park police chief Tim Mattos said outreach was comprehensive, resulting in some alterations to the project. It will be staffed 24/7. Mattos said officials will remain highly involved. 
"We certainly don't want this to turn into a Roberts Lake encampment," Mattos said. "This is more a transitional type housing program where we can bring people in, surround them with the services they need, and then transition them into the next step in living. This is not an encampment, this is a transitional housing development."
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