The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a $60,000 grant to support Sonoma’s winter shelter for unhoused residents of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley. Operated by Sonoma Overnight Support, the program offers nighttime food and bedding from December through March.
Last winter, the shelter, provided in a Sonoma church, housed 44 individuals with 1,000 bed nights for “the most chronically homeless and vulnerable in the community,” according to Katherine King, SOS executive director.
The funds for 2018-19 were in doubt after the Sonoma County Community Development Commission (SCDC), which administers the money on behalf of the County and has supported SOS in the past, notified King in March that no funds would be available for upcoming season.
But recent developments influenced a reversal of that decision. Community members and City officials lobbied for reinstating the funding, and more federal money became available when a HUD allocation was larger than expected.
The HUD money, along with $30,000 from the First District office of Supervisor Susan Gorin, totaled the $60,000 grant for SOS.
Recently released results of the annual county-wide homeless count showed a 6% increase of homelessness in the county, in large part due to the housing shortage following the October 2017 wildfires. That increase, coupled with an ongoing rise in rental costs, has shown that “more people are living in unstable conditions either couch surfing or doubling up or who have no leases,” according to the CDC Commission.
King said there has been a higher number of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley residents seeking help from SOS every day. From January 1st through May 30, 2018, 130 individuals came to SOS for food, showers, and case management services. Additionally, SOS housed 25 individuals in its emergency shelter, The Haven, and has a waiting list of 15 awaiting acceptance into The Haven.
“SOS stands ready to increase the number of persons it can house at its winter shelter, including when possible those seeking help from other parts of Sonoma County,” King said.
Pictured: The Haven shelter on First Street East in Sonoma.