Prior to my retirement from the Sonoma City Council, I served on the Continuum of Care board for approximately two years. While there were a variety of dedicated people involved, there were two glaring issues that led to my decision to leave that board. That includes geographic inequity for Sonoma Valley and lack of preparation for warming and cooling stations. These are problems that are easily visible and have a significant impact on the homeless population.
It’s almost the end of September, and normally organizations similar to Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) have staff and volunteers prepare for the winter. That’s how to keep homeless safe.
What are the current plans for a winter shelter?
An idea is to mirror the dormitories inspired by CalFire’s renovations to house fire crews. I’m sure those dormitories have full service, and rightly so. However, there is a vast difference between public safety personnel and homeless individuals with untreated behavioral health issues, addiction issues, and the general malaise of homelessness.
Closure of the Los Guilicos 60 pallet houses would end a private space with services for residents at LG Village. St. Vincent de Paul is the designated service provider, and responsible for all site services. I personally visited the site. It truly is a village. SOS has placed 12 people from the Valley there, with three on the waiting list.
SOS’s hope is that the village will remain in operation during any refurbishment. Are there any guarantees? While there is a goal to move the project along, I’ve learned that local contractors work before the rains. The rain is around the corner.
Herein lies the geographic inequity; in the past when the County cleared encampments, it became difficult for SOS to place Valley homeless because of clients being cleared. The renovation could be an additional detriment to Valley homeless. Will they have priority to be housed at the new facility? There are a multitude of questions yet to be addressed.
How long will the renovation take, what accommodations will be provided, will wrap-around services be provided?
These are Valley people, we care about them!
— Madolyn Agrimonti, Sonoma; SOS Board