‘It’s an emergency’: Homeless service providers in Sonoma County see cut in funding

Bay Area

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) — The dismantling of the sprawling encampment along the Joe Rodota Trail in Santa Rosa happened after months of debate.

The cleanup of the area is expected to drag on for several more weeks. 

But now some of the Sonoma County homeless service providers who help this population are finding themselves facing 34 percent cuts in funding from the county starting July 1.

“And what that means, what that translates into is less shelter beds, is less housing beds — people losing their housing because other nonprofits can’t continue those housing units,” said Jennielynn Holmes. “That could create more individuals living in our streets and that’s not OK.”

Holmes is the chief program officer for Catholic Charities, the largest homeless service provider in the county.

She says they will be trying to drum up more funding sources in the community to make up for this shortfall.

“We’ve been able to actually triple the amount of people we house in the last year,” she said. “And my big concern is it that progress is going to get stalled and or fall backwards. And we have no ability to do that because homeless is a crisis and it’s an emergency right now.”

The mayor of Santa Rosa is also the chair of the leadership council for Home Sonoma, the agency forced to make the tough choice of where to make the cuts.  

“Obviously it was disappointing because we have a significant issue here in Sonoma County,” the mayor said.

He says this comes because last year the state gave them $12 million in new one time funding to spend on homelessness.  

This year they got nearly 4 million and the county got an additional $3 million for a total of close to 7 million. 

While that’s better than nothing, he hopes that the state sees the importance of investing locally in addressing the homeless crisis.

“The state now has this billion dollar, multiple billions of dollars in the rainy day fund. So at the local level we’re like rather than have the rainy day fund — it’s raining here in Santa Rosa and we can use that investment to enhance our homeless services,” the mayor said. 

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