Rohnert Park is working closely with community organizations, government agencies and experts in the homeless services field to address and ultimately end homelessness in our City. The City Council identified homelessness as a top priority in January 2021 and has dedicated nearly $3 million in Fiscal Year 2022-2023 to fund homeless services.

PERMANENT HOUSING

Catholic Charities - Rapid Re-Housing & Master Lease

The City is providing $616,135 this fiscal year to Catholic Charities to operate a Rapid Re-housing program, which provides financial assistance and support to help people experiencing homelessness get back into a home of their own. Catholic Charities will also ‘master lease’ several units to provide housing for individuals with higher needs who may not qualify for an apartment on their own due to issues such as poor credit or lack of housing history. Financial assistance can include security deposit, portion of monthly rent for an average of six months, and assistance paying for utilities. Supports include assistance with budgeting and increasing income, and educating on landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities. 

SHARE Sonoma County – Affordable Shared Housing
The City is providing $235,078 this fiscal year to SHARE Sonoma County to match home-seekers who are either homeless or at-risk of homelessness with home-providers who have an extra room in their house. Support is provided to both parties for the duration of their living arrangement. SHARE also creates other affordable permanent housing opportunities for individuals through their shared “Community Homes.” These homes provide housing opportunities to individuals who are unable to qualify for an apartment on their own due to barriers like low income or poor credit.


INTERIM HOUSING

The City has been awarded $14.6 million in State funding for the Homekey project. This 60-bed facility will provide for homeless individuals’ immediate needs and offer an array of services designed to connect them with permanent housing.  This program will better enable the City to enforce no camping laws to reduce encampment and associated risks to public health and safety.  The annual operating budget is $1.8 million, which will be funded via City, County and State funds. Read more about the Homekey project here.
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There are many ideas about how to solve homelessness. In a few places, the problem has been nearly solved and homelessness is rare and short-term. That is our ultimate goal. 

Getting to this point requires a well-coordinated system that includes permanent housing for those on the streets with significant mental health or other challenges. These are individuals who need help in managing medication, mental health, or similar support. While their incomes are typically very low, they are required to pay 1/3 toward housing. 

We've been funding housing and supportive services for some high-needs individuals. Since January, we've provided housing to five of the highest-need individuals who were experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park, and helped obtain it for dozens of others. These costs are large and not something that we can sustain on a large scale.

One key to long-term success is to find other funding sources, including Federal and state-funded housing vouchers.

We're pleased to share that all five of the high-needs individuals now have housing vouchers. Those vouchers cover their rental costs, which are about $92,000/year. We continue to pay for the supportive services while working with the regional system to cover these costs in the longer-term.

We can only make this kind of progress with an integrated, regional system of care. The Continuum of Care (CoC) is the name of the group in charge of creating this kind of system. Rohnert Park has been part of the CoC for several years.

Vouchers, good data, and proven practices help people who are experiencing homelessness get the help they need. Join us in the solutions.

- Contact the CoC at [email protected]
- Request the use of vouchers, good data, and solutions based on proven practices
- Ask that your request be shared with the CoC Board of Directors and staff

We continue to push for solutions and invite you to join us.

HOMELESS OUTREACH

Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST)

This fiscal year, the City is providing $225,757 to Catholic Charities to fund outreach services to individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. A dedicated team of three skilled outreach workers from the Catholic Charities Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) are in the field in Rohnert Park four days per week providing services to unsheltered individuals. These services include connecting individuals with housing options, accessing shelter, obtaining government identification, increasing income, connecting with medical, mental health and substance use services, and meeting some of their basic needs. HOST outreach workers engage with unsheltered individuals in various settings including encampments, vehicles, and service hubs like the weekly mobile shower program.

Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO)
Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO) was started by two Rohnert Park residents who wanted to help their unsheltered fellow community members. What began as an ad hoc volunteer group operating entirely with donated goods and funds has become a volunteer-led non-profit organization partnering with the city to meet the basic survival needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. This fiscal year, the City is providing $36,000 to UFO to fund these survival services including providing meals, clothing and toiletries. UFO also operates a weekly mobile shower program. UFO also collaborates closely with HOST and other local homeless service providers to connect homeless individuals to housing and shelter options. 

By-Name List
The City developed a By-Name List (BNL) program to track, identify and meet the needs of each individual experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. Additionally, this list helps us prioritize those with higher needs for supportive services and permanent housing opportunities. Though the list focuses on Rohnert Park, it is part of a larger regional effort to better track the needs of homeless individuals in Sonoma County across systems of care and to develop permanent housing solutions tailored to the needs of each individual.

Homelessness Roundtable
The City convenes a monthly meeting to engage community members who want to be part of the solution to homeless in Rohnert Park. Learn more about the Homelessness Roundtable here.