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HOMELESSNESS IN SANTA ROSA

An overall look:

Related sites:
https://www.citizensforactionnow.com/
Citizens For Action Now!

https://www.sonomacountyhomeless.com/
Sonoma County Homeless

Chaos by the Bay: The Truth About Homelessness in San Francisco

Let's make sure and STOP homelessness in Santa Rosa before this happens.
https://youtu.be/uw8MACDZ3RI

 

Santa Rosa the Most Bum Friendly Place on Earth

I respectfully DISAGREE with this man's opinion. They removed the sound, but you can still see his shocking opinions via YouTube closed captioning. Essentially he's bragging about how great Santa Rosa treats their "bums" and everyone should get the word out for the homeless to come to Santa Rosa. 
https://youtu.be/tA6gUn4JZpU

 

Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey:

http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CDC/Homeless-Services/Homeless-Count/

Homeless count by year, entire county:
2009-3247 people
2011-4539 people
2013-4280 people
2015-3107 people
2016-2906 people
2017-2835 people
2018-2996 people
2019-2951 people
2020-2745 people(preliminary count)
https://www.citizensforactionnow.com/2020/07/18/point-in-time-count-and-the-economy/


Homeless count of unsheltered people in SANTA ROSA by year. This is within city limits not including unincorporated. Source 2019 PIT Count.
2016-979
2017-769
2018-863
2019-954 (HUH? Wrong direction to go with all the money we spend, right?)
https://www.citizensforactionnow.com/2020/01/28/updated-complete-list-of-homelessness-funding-for-sonoma-county/

The City of Santa Rosa's homeless spending dashboard. https://santarosa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/4d1b5c1c64ef4d72b10d65cdb9114fbf
Note that this is ONLY for the officially contracted providers, NOT the other non profits, secular and faith-based, that also serve this same community.

An associate of mine states it best:
"We need accountability, transparency, and respect for the majority. 6% of the population is the total number of homeless in Sonoma County. We've spent Millions over the last 5 years on homeless services, capital awards, vouchers, and more. Result? 5% true reduction from 2015 to 2019 in overall homeless count. The small numbers that officials tout as success, "2% reduction from last year, 7% from the year before, etc", are statistically insignificant when the PIT is not regarded as accurate enough to use to award funding. It's merely a rough overall picture.
 
When large drops in a specific subset of the homeless population is touted, "35% drop overall, 40% drop in unaccompanied youth, etc", experts who study the data warn to not take it at face value. No region in the country has had those large drops in one or two years and is usually attributed to methodology changes in the count itself or definitions.  We did NOT magically house almost 1200 people from 2013-2015 time period. That would have had people from all over the country beating down our door on a fact finding mission."

Below is a summary of the requests made for for the 2019-2020 Consolidated Notice of Funding Availability for Homeless Services Funding (Sonoma County).
A lot of organizations requesting a lot of money from the County for the homeless.
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CDC-Home-Sonoma-Leadership-Council/Summary-of-Requests/


My approach to the homeless issue is described below. I call it E.A.R.N.

[E]MPATHY— Understand people’s problems, and when it is a humanitarian issue, have empathy and support their journey to independence within fiscal reason. We want to support all individuals that are actively trying to transition from dependent to independent. However, the homeless that decline services, that deal drugs, or addicts that don’t want to improve their current state should receive no help from the city and they should follow the laws like everyone else.

[A]CCOUNTABILITY—We all own our own decisions. Some of us may have had unforeseeable obstacles thrown in our way but we need to want to overcome those obstacles and better our situation. If we do, we should have a supportive community to help rise us up. If we choose to make the decision to take no effort in our own betterment, then that’s a free choice for us to make as well, just don’t expect others to support that lifestyle when there are so many wanting to better themselves needing the support. I am for helping others help themselves, not for giving handouts to people who hate the system or want to live loose and wild. Live that way, just live within the law and not on the taxpayer’s dime. No more “victim” mentality. Help those that are in real need and want the help. 

 

[R]ESPONSIBILITY—Personal responsibility, legal responsibility, Community responsibility. Everyone has the right to live free as long as they don’t infringe on property owner’s rights, don’t block or disrupt people trying to earn a living, don’t pollute or do illegal activities. This also means allowing the Police to enforce the laws on the books for the safety of the community, and if a politician or other elected official is preventing them from doing so, that official is held accountable to the public. This desire to be "nice" as a society is really hurting people, the homeless most of all. As a community, we should want to take care and raise up our brothers and sisters that are struggling. Hand-ups not hand-outs. Let’s work with businesses to help find job placement, let’s find permanent housing for those looking to better their situation. I am all for being supportive and not just spending resources on people who choose to do nothing and expect the rest of us to carry them along forever. That is not a sustainable solution for any community.

[N]EGOTIATE-- The City of Santa Rosa needs to negotiate better. Split the costs up throughout the county based on homelessness services. Right now, the City of Santa Rosa carries the main burden of the homeless and needs to be compensated accordingly. This is a county issue not just a city by city issue. Find affordable solutions for the homeless and not just rubber stamp ideas brought about by committee members who may not even have had real-world experience in these matters. It makes me wonder who’s making the deals for the city and how are they being vetted when I hear about the amounts of money being handed out without solid results. I’ve been actively bidding large dollar projects for years in my own business, and I would naturally insist on knowing how my money would be spent along with asking about other options that should be proposed or researched. It makes sense to do this within city business contracts as well. No more “business as usual” games, or closed-door negotiations with the taxpayer money. We need to actively find the best deals for the city. Throwing money at this problem without solid results has not helped. We need those strategic partners to own the responsibility of helping us solve these issues if they take taxpayer money. Results not promises. Resolution, not endless funding for minimal progress. 

Protect citizens of Santa Rosa and their property rights.

The lawlessness and pollution homeless encampments cause in residential and business neighborhoods is not acceptable, nor is it a healthy choice for the homeless. It seems City Officials have great empathy for their plight but not as much for the residents these same officials are supposed to represent. Homeless encampments on the Joe Rodota Trail and Corporate Center Parkway are two locations in District 7 that the city and county clearly failed at helping. I live and work in these areas. Sadly the Police were being asked not to intervene by City Officials so residents’ calls did very little. Meanwhile homes and businesses were being vandalized, experiencing thefts, and residents in general were feeling completely unsafe walking around their own neighborhoods. We keep hearing how people in politics are great listeners, but what I experienced was the opposite and I certainly did not feel like my city saw the urgency to my plight.

I have a young daughter that for years could not walk around our neighborhood or parks because of the concern her mother and I had about the drugs, inappropriate language, and other activities happening around those  living on the streets. The park near our home was littered with trash, needles, excrement and people sleeping on park benches. Yet, no one came to our rescue. We were just forced to live with it. Tax paying residents of District 7 completely ignored for months and months. Again, everyone is so concerned about listening and doing the right thing for the "victims" of homelessness while tax paying residents and business owners are forced to shoulder the hardships while the city instructs their Police Officers not to interfere. Huh? We have enough listeners in the City. Now is the time for a council member to make the hard decisions and I’m that kind of candidate. As a businessman serving clients and employees everyday, I know how to make hard decisions, and as such will listen and make decisions based on the needs of District 7 residents as well as the overall good for the City of Santa Rosa. As a city, we need to really protect and support the whole community. It is so critical to have a council member that gives a voice to residents, and not just roll over and make hasty decisions based on outside pressures or influences. Working men and women in our Community have jobs which prevent them from being at every City Council meeting, but their voices need to be heard just as clearly. Let me carry your voice.

Temporary housing is nothing more than a bandaid and one that will never solve homelessness. The only way to get a resolution to the homeless issue may be through building a nurturing community‐‐check this out https://youtu.be/Db8NHiCyGTw. I really feel this approach is what it's going to take to resolve this issue for the betterment of all. I'm not looking to be an advocate against the homeless, I just want a reachable goal and from what I can see it's programs like Community First that we need to be paying attention to. 

While the reality of homelessness is a very human concern, the City also needs to view homelessness from a cost versus gains approach. Where is the money going from the City, and how exactly is it being utilized by our strategic partners? Is their game plan working to solve homelessness? It seems we hover around the same amount of homeless year after year despite huge sums of money being spent.  I wonder if the homeless would feel like they have been allocated millions in services. At the end of the day, money the City spends for the homeless needs to help the homeless. Has it really? It would seem that spending of millions of dollars on this issue could have been handled much better these last five years.

 

I also feel strongly that while many homeless have had traumatic experiences in their lives, many that I have talked with are homeless by choice. When offered services, they refuse them for a myriad of reasons--some actually being that there are drugs in the shelters. We need a better solution, but it will require a desire from homeless individuals to want to take the necessary commitments on their end as well. If someone refuses shelter or services to help better their situation, then they are obligated to follow the same laws everyone else follows.

Lastly let's stop confusing mental illness with drug addiction. They are two very different things. We should certainly support those with mental illness and help addicts get into rehab. If someone just likes getting high, then they are choosing that lifestyle and should NOT be considered a victim. One young man I recently met on the streets told me how he became homeless. When I asked if he would take advantage of a service like a homeless shelter or “Community First!” if it was offered to him, he told me, "I haven't hit rock-bottom yet. Maybe then I would." 

Everyone has a responsibility here to face homelessness with a reality check. Help those truly in need and keep trying to motivate those unwilling to get better, so they can get the help they should. Don't throw millions at those not seeking to better themselves because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Everyone owns their own decisions. People's bad decisions are not the fault of the tax paying residents of Santa Rosa so why are we paying for them? When there is law enforcement enforcing the laws, and people are held accountable to their actions, society and even the people committing the crime benefit. It seems like common sense that enforcing laws is a deterrent to lawlessness and helps keep our residents safe and our city beautiful.

 

Paid for By Eric Christensen for Santa Rosa City Council 2020 - FPPC # 1430326
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