What is the City Doing

Cleaning Encampments
The health and safety of our residents is our highest priority. Encampments often create health and safety risks. When that occurs, or when an encampment interferes with the public’s use of public property, creates risks of imminent injury or property damage, or has criminal activity or aggressive behavior from those living in them, the City will clean up the encampment. This includes removal of materials, pruning trees and vegetation, and sorting and storing any valuable items. Our practice includes trying to link those in encampments to services through COTS as a first step when we come across encampments.


Homeless Outreach

City staff work closely with COTS, a Sonoma County homeless services agency, which provides outreach services to individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. Outreach specialists go to encampments and engage the individuals living there, providing services specific to their needs and situation. Services include connecting with housing options, getting on shelter and housing waitlists, obtaining government identification, increasing income, connecting with medical, mental health and substance use services, and meeting some of their immediate needs. Between February 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019, this program engaged with 257 people, and helped 87 move into shelter or housing. 

Shelter Beds
The City is funding 12 beds at COTS homeless shelter in Petaluma for individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. Individuals have access to meals, laundry, and supportive services, and are able to stay for up to 90 days before leaving to make the beds available for others. (Length of stay may be extended on a case by case basis.)

Rapid Rehousing
The City provides $250,000 per year to COTS to operate a Rapid Rehousing program, which provides financial assistance and support to help people experiencing homelessness to get back into a home of their own. 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. Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, this program housed 65 people, 23 of which were children. 

Working with Property Owners
The City is providing suggestions to owners of private property, particularly businesses with large parking lots, on how they can address homelessness on their properties. Trespassing laws are difficult to enforce.  

Enforcing Parking Restrictions
The City has established and enforces restrictions on overnight parking in several locations, including our parks. We also enforce the requirement that vehicles not be parked on public streets for more than 72 consecutive hours in the same location.  

Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund
The City has provided COTS $25,000 for a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund. This fund provides extra protection for landlords to encourage them to rent to someone experiencing homelessness. The fund can help cover excessive damages to a rental unit, beyond what is covered by a security deposit. Other communities that offer a risk mitigation fund report that, while it is infrequently accessed, it provides local landlords peace of mind.

Donations
The City is providing funding to COTS to make it easier for those interested in donating furniture or other goods to those who become housed.