There is a homeless crisis happening now, in the county, in the valley, in the city. The number of homeless youth is particularly shocking. Sonoma County has one of the highest rates per capita nationwide, higher than San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Over 515 unaccompanied youth ages 12-24 are homeless on any given night. Among those aged 18-24, 88% sleep outside single night. The situation is so dire, the Board of Supervisors has declared a homeless state of emergency.
One Cold Night, an action on December 7, looked to highlight the ongoing crisis by having elected leaders and community members sleep outside for one night at six sites across the county. The goal was to raise $200,000 to fund housing and services to help Sonoma County youth get off the streets and into housing.
The Sonoma Valley site was Arnold Field in Sonoma, where Supervisor Susan Gorin, Councilmember Rachel Hundley and other volunteers slept outside, on a tarp, in a sleeping bag. Also braving the cold were Chelsea Lazzari, Sonoma Raceway; Ryan Lely, Pangloss Cellars and Repris Wines; Chris Mahurin, Santa Rosa Police Department; Gary Saperstein, Out in the Vineyard; Mike Sullivan, Benovia; and Jeremy Turpen, Wavestaff.
“These amazing Sleepers raised more than $21,000 dollars in Sonoma Valley toward our collective total raised of $189,000 – all going to support Social Advocates for Youth’s programs and services for young people,” said SAY’s Shelby Harris
The donated sleeping bags were later given to homeless youth.
Photos by Gabrielle Saveri