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.