SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) — Newly released numbers from Sonoma County show a five percent increase in individuals experiencing some form of homelessness during the pandemic.

Preliminary numbers from the county’s “point-in-time” count revealed that a total of 2,839 individuals were living outdoors and in shelters earlier this year. Those numbers are up from 2,745 since the last count in 2020, before the pandemic.

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In response, the city of Santa Rosa will be hosting a virtual community input session to develop a five-year strategic plan to address the spike in homelessness in the county. The Homelessness Solutions Strategic Plan will help identify step-by-step actions to achieve “Functional Zero” homelessness in Santa Rosa in alignment with the Sonoma County Continuum of Care.

Functional Zero is a milestone point when a community’s homeless services system is able to prevent homelessness whenever possible and ensure that when homelessness does occur, it is rare, brief, and non-recurring.

The virtual community meeting is scheduled for May 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Community members will also have the opportunity to take an input survey, which closes on June 1. The community meeting and survey provide an opportunity for community members to participate in the initial information-gathering phase of the strategic planning process. The information gathered, along with other stakeholder engagement efforts, will be used to develop an understanding of the current state of the homelessness response in the city and begin identifying goals and strategies to incorporate into the plan.