(BCN) — Sonoma County allocated $4 million in federal funding Tuesday to support housing projects intended to reduce homelessness and increase interim and rental housing. The funding will include $2.16 million to recruit property owners willing to make their existing housing units available as rentals via tools like subsidies for security deposits, minor repairs and move-in assistance.

The county will also use $620,000 for an 18-month program that will help homeless residents secure social benefits, $250,000 to improve the county’s 211 information portal and $200,000 for homelessness outreach teams. The county’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to allocate the funds from the pool of money the county received from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act.

The board also allocated nearly $15 million in state and federal grants in May to reduce homelessness and support local services for unhoused residents.

“We have to keep leaning in on this issue,” county Supervisor James Gore said. “We need a compassionate approach, a results-driven approach, but also an accountable approach to homelessness.”

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Preliminary data from the county’s 2022 Point-in-Time census of homeless residents found that 2,893 homeless residents live in Sonoma, up roughly 5 percent from 2020 when the count was 2,745. However, the county’s population of homeless residents has trended down over the last decade; the population exceeded 4,000 in 2011. County officials have expressed an intention to reduce Sonoma’s homeless population by roughly 10 percent per year going forward.

The county did not conduct a census of homeless residents in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Information about the county’s services provided to homeless residents or those struggling to maintain long-term housing can be found here.

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