How many people are homeless in Rohnert Park?

On any given night, there are an estimated 210 individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. In the entire County, there are 2,266 individuals experiencing homeless on any given night. To learn more about the demographics of individuals experiencing homeless, see the 2023 Sonoma County Homeless Point-in-Time Count Report. 

What is the City doing to address homelessness in our community?

The City is taking numerous steps to address the challenges of homelessness, including connecting those experiencing homelessness to services, funding interim and permanent housing options, and responding to encampments. Learn more about what the City is doing to address homelessness on the Homelessness main page.

It seems like there are more homeless people in Rohnert Park now. Is that true?

Based on the annual Homeless Census and Survey, the number of homeless individuals in Rohnert Park at any one time has increased from about 45 people in 2015 to 210 in 2023. Due to increased development, staff presence in the creeks to address water quality, and the completion of the SMART train tracks, homeless individuals may be moving to different parts of the city, which can make them more visible.

Is Rohnert Park attracting homeless people from out of the area?

There is little evidence that Rohnert Park is attracting homeless individuals from out of the area. The 2023 Homeless Point-in Time Survey showed that 85% of homeless individuals were already living in Sonoma County when they became homeless. There is evidence that some individuals experiencing homelessness move between the County’s largest population centers, travelling up and down the 101 corridor between Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma.

It seems like a lot of homeless individuals are choosing to be homeless and don’t want housing. Is that true?

While there are some who may never want to move into housing, 86% of individuals experiencing homelessness report that they would gladly accept affordable permanent housing if it became available (see 2023 Homeless Point-in-Time Survey). The reality is that, for most, affordable housing – often with supportive services they need to remain safely housed – is not available to them.

What causes homelessness?

Many factors contribute to homelessness including insufficient income, the cost of housing, lack of physical and mental health services and lack of support systems. While many factors may cause someone to lose their housing, at root, the data shows that homelessness is a housing issue. In areas with high rents and low affordable housing supply, homelessness increases.  


Why does California have the largest homeless population in the nation?

California has 12% of the overall U.S. population, but about 30% of the nation’s homeless population (about 172,000 total). The cost and lack of housing is a primary reason. If people lose their housing, it is much harder to find another place to live in California, which is short millions of housing units. California’s population is the largest in the United States as well. A 2018 study by Zillow Research showed that homelessness increases more rapidly in areas where rent exceeds a third of a renter's income. Between 2013 and 2018, renters in Rohnert Park were paying an average of 39% of their income on rent. Per the Zillow study, as of 2018, renters in Santa Rosa were paying an average of 43.7% of their income towards rent.

Does Rohnert Park have a homeless shelter? Has a homeless person ever been turned away from the shelter due to lack of space?

Rohnert Park opened Labath Landing, a 60-unit interim housing program for people experiencing homelessness, in 2022. Visit the Labath Landing page for more information.

In Sonoma County, there are shelter beds available for about one-third of the individuals experiencing homelessness Countywide, leaving two-thirds unsheltered most of the year.

Do homeless individuals have access to facilities such as restrooms and showers in the City?

Homeless individuals are able to access public restrooms at the parks or library during open hours and Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO) operates a weekly shower program for people experiencing homelessness. The City provides portable toilets and hand washing stations in or near major encampments at its discretion.

What should I do if a homeless individual is on or near my property?

If a homeless individual – or any individual – is on your private home property and was not invited by you, they are trespassing and you should contact Public Safety to assist in removing them. If you see homeless individuals on public property and they are not breaking any laws, they are allowed to be there. While it is not acceptable for anyone to break any laws, being homeless is not a crime and homeless individuals enjoy the same rights as any other residents.

How can I help?

Learn more about how you can help by clicking on the How to Help page.

What is the City doing to improve access to services for people with behavioral health and substance use needs?

Rohnert Park and Cotati launched the SAFE team in 2021, whose services include responding to people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and those in need of treatment for mental illness. Visit the SAFE Team webpage to learn more.

The City also partners with Catholic Charities, a non-profit focused on helping people experiencing homelessness. Catholic Charities has an outreach team dedicated to Rohnert Park that regularly visits encampments and offers services to individuals there, which may include referrals to substance use and mental health support. Unfortunately, in Sonoma County, there are not sufficient mental health and substance use services available to adequately meet the need.

Are people allowed to camp in the parks, along the creeks, or in other areas of the city?

City parks are closed at night, so no one should be in them overnight. The City adopted an  ordinance in 2022 that gives us stronger tools to address encampments, prohibiting camping near sensitive areas including creeks, schools, daycare facilities, facilities serving homeless individuals, libraries, and in the middle of streets, sidewalks and public right-of-ways. Additionally, the City prohibits camping within 600 feet of active groundwater wells in order to protect water quality. Watch the September 13, 2022 City Council discussion on this topic, item 7A.

What is being done about homeless people living in RVs and vehicles parked on the street?

RVs and vehicles are allowed to park on public streets as long as they are legally registered and move 1/10 of a mile every 72 hours. Everyone with an RV or vehicle may park it in a location that does not violate these rules. When RVs and vehicles violate these rules, Public Safety staff start the abatement process. Visit the RVs and Vehicles on Public Streets page to learn more.

The City works with Catholic Charities and Unsheltered Friends Outreach to provide outreach services to people experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park, including those living in RVs and vehicles. These services include connecting people with housing and shelter options, obtaining government identification, and connecting with medical, mental health and substance use services. Read more about homeless services funded by the City on the Homeless Services page.


How does the City measure the success of its efforts, including that of its contractors?

The City requires all its homeless service providers to provide monthly reports for the programs funded through the City. The reports detail how many people have been served and housed through the program and, of those housed, what percentage kept their housing after assistance ended. Monthly outcome data is reported on the City’s homelessness landing webpage.  Additionally, the City has a Homeless Taskforce made up of City staff that meet weekly to discuss through the most effective ways and to address homelessness in our community.

Are homeless individuals allowed to “hang out” in the parks and downtown area?

If you see homeless individuals in public places and they are not breaking any laws, they are allowed to be there. While it is not acceptable for anyone to break any laws, being homeless is not a crime and homeless individuals have the same rights as any other resident. If anyone is dumping trash, or interfering with your use of a park, path, sidewalk, or other facilities, call Public Safety.

How can I protect my bicycle from theft?

Learn how to protect your bicycle from theft and general bicycle safety on Public Safety’s Bicycle Safety and Theft Prevention page.