Placeholder Image photo credit: City of Rohnert Park
Map of historic homeless encampments spread
across Rohnert Park.

It’s been less than a year since Rohnert Park transitioned the controversial Roberts Lake homeless encampment into a safe sleeping program.

But the city is looking to eventually close the site as the number of residents dwindles.

Rohnert Park’s housing manager Jenna Garcia said less demand is thanks in part to other efforts within the city.

"October 11th, 2022 was 130," Garcia said. "A good chunk of those went to Labath Landing when that opened, about 50 people, and so you can see that November 1st, you know, by the time we actually set up the platforms and the tents, it was about 68 people."

And Garcia said that number has continued to drop.

"By end of February that went down to 40; May 15th, which was the last time we came to you to talk about this, was about 33 and now at the end of June, 27," Garcia said. "So we are seeing continued reduction in the number of folks that are there."

Before transitioning to an official safe sleeping site, the encampment and nearby Rogers Plaza were dogged by conflict between camp residents and local business; prompting repeated calls for police service.

As sun-setting of the site continues, calls have dropped from 192 in September of 2022 to just 38 in May of this year.

Garcia said, of the 68 original residents of the safe sleeping program, 41 have exited the site.

"Of those 14 have gone to interim housing, eight have gone into permanent housing, which if you tally those up together, it's over 50% that have exited successfully," Garcia said.

Guaranteeing permanent housing remains a challenge for homeless service programs. Two shelter sites in Santa Rosa have housing transition rates closer to 25%.

Garcia said even with the site winding down, there’s no guarantee it will return to use as a park and ride.

"The Roberts Lake Park and Ride site was included in the city's housing element as a site for affordable housing," Garcia said.

Rohnert Park has set aside nearly 870,000 more dollars to keep the site in operation until at least January 2024 - close to half coming from county Measure O funds.

  • SoCo Calendar
  • Right Now
  • Weather
  • Earthquakes
  • First News
thumbnail FirstNews logoA weekday early morning podcast that offers a first look at the top local news stories and weather forecast you need to start your day.

Sonoma County news stories featuring the latest in breaking news, county government, elections, environment, cultural happenings, and updates on your communities, from Petaluma to Cloverdale, and from Sonoma to Bodega Bay, and everyplace in between.

Subscribe to the Sonoma County First News podcast through our website, the NorCal Mobile App, NPR Podcasts, NPR One, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Read More

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.