Sonoma County’s 2023 point in time homeless count took place Friday, January 27th. In advance of the survey, the Sonoma City Council received an update on where the city’s efforts to mitigate homelessness stand.
Hoping to get a clear picture on the state of homelessness in the Sonoma Valley, the City of Sonoma brought on consultant Andrew Hening last year to assess.
"There are ways in which the local system of care, and I'm referring to not just the city, but really the broader city-unincorporated Sonoma Valley area where people are experiencing homelessness services, could be configured more effectively in Sonoma Valley," Hening said. "As is the case in many, if not most communities across the country, there is currently insufficient support for people experiencing chronic homelessness."
Going forward, Hening proposed a number of changes in the coordination of homeless care, from consultants, like himself, to local oversight. Including the creation of a full list of homeless individuals in need of support.
"The goal is to within the next six months, have a fully developed by name list for Sonoma Valley, a clear and sustainable medium framework so that the local community has the capacity that it needs to move this forward," Hening said.
The City's Lisa Janson acknowledged Sonoma’s lack of a homeless care network compared to more established systems in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.
"The city team is very knowledgeable on many topics, but homelessness is not one," Janson said.
One discussion centered on paying for Hening’s continued work on coordinating local homeless support; but the requested $67,000 proved a small hurdle with grant funding likely to cover 2/3rds of the costs.
"We're building momentum," Hening said. "I want to continue to build momentum and I hope that we can continue on."
The Sonoma City Council unanimously approved just that, and Hening will continue his efforts to help transform the city’s homeless care network described as “more like a treasured patchwork quilt made by loving hands than a true system of support that leads to a permanent solution."