Homes 4 the Homeless

Sonoma County among top homeless populations nationwide

Alex Campbell 0
Home in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, California destroyed by the 2017 Tubbs fire.

Despite a recent 1.5 percent reduction in its homeless population and  moves to clear out homeless encampments in the past year, Sonoma County  is among the top homeless populations in the country, according to 2018  figures. A sharp rise in younger homeless and people living in cars has  been the most recent concern.

According to the Press Democrat,  2,657 homeless adults and 715 chronically homeless were reported in  Sonoma County, which was highlighted in the 2018 federal report to  Congress as having one of the nation’s biggest homeless populations  among largely suburban communities.

The annual homeless assessment report,  from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said when compared with similar-sized communities, Sonoma County also has among the highest numbers of unaccompanied homeless youth,  living in shelters or on the streets, and chronically homeless people.  They live without a  home for a year or more.

– Press Democrat, December 22, 2018, “Sonoma County homeless population among the biggest nationwide

According to a June 2019 report,  the number of homeless people in Sonoma County declined 1.5 percent  during the past year, according to the results of a point-in-time count  in January. The number of homeless people fell from 2,996 in January  2018 to 2,951 this January, according to the Sonoma County Community  Development Commission. The final tally showed a considerable decline in  the number of people who have been continuously homeless for more than a  year and in homeless families, county officials said.  The report was  issued by the Bay City News Service.

The commission said areas of concern include a near 20-percent rise  in the number of young homeless people, a significant increase in people  living in vehicles and the continued presence of an estimated 21,000   unstably housed people. 

The unstably housed older adult population has declined due to  post-2017 wildfire efforts and other social service  interventions,  Abramson said. A lingering effect of the 2017 wildfires, however, is  young people having difficulty breaking into the local  rental market.

Sonoma County officials hope to reduce the homeless population 20 percent in the next two years, according to the commission.

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