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North Sonoma County Services: Transitional Housing Update


North Sonoma County Services: Transitional Housing Update 

By Colleen Carmichael, Executive Director

It’s hard to believe it has been just over a year since North Sonoma County Services (NSCS) launched its restructured family transitional housing program in Healdsburg. The work we have been able to accomplish since that date is incredible. Here is what we have done:

Our goal for transitional housing was to get 35% of our 11 families into permanent housing. We ended up placing every family in a permanent home.

Trips to homeless encampments daily bringing food, visiting with the homeless, building trust and allowing us to facilitate California identification cards, and signing up some homeless for social security benefits, and other general assistance benefits and 3 are now in shelters or permanent housing.

We built our relationship with Alliance Medical and Alexander Valley Medical Center. We have brought about 20 chronically homeless in for medical, mental health and dental appointments.

We received a 7 passenger van from Alexander Valley Medical so we can transport homeless clients to appointments.

St. Joseph’s Hospital is now bringing a mobile medical unit to St. Paul’s church once a month to perform basic medical services for low income and homeless individuals.

Sonoma County Mental Health partnered with us to provide a four-class certification for Mental Health First Aid to offer assistance to providers who work with the homeless and give them tools to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental illness or crisis and connect them with the appropriate mental health professional.

Two of our staff members are going to night school at SRJC to receive a Community Health Worker certification. 

30 families in Healdsburg received notices of pending rent increases (some up to 60%). With funding from the City of Healdsburg, we assisted them in finding new apartments, security deposits, partial rent, and storage costs. All 30 families stayed housed. The City approved two more years of funding to help families affected by sudden rent increases.

31 families received $26,000 in rent/deposit/utility assistance in 2015 and 23 families so far in 2016 so they could stay housed.

We made presentations about homelessness to most schools in the district reaching over 315 students culminating in our art exhibit. The event raised community awareness for the plight of the homeless and over $7,000 for outreach services.

A Healdsburg High School graduate, Marcus Cano created a documentary film on homelessness in our community that will be shown at the Raven Movie Theater by the Alexander Film Society on December 1st. 

We gave 45 backpacks filed with school supplies to our tenants as well as the families impacted by the rent increases. 

We recently started our Master Lease program in Cloverdale. We are renting a 3 bedroom 2 bath home from a local property owner and we have subleased it to two families. A case manager will work with the families to convert them from subsidized rent to being able to afford market rate rent within one year. 

In 2017, we hope to provide a 15-bed homeless shelter. The shelter will provide a safe, short-term housing solution for homeless families and individuals. It will operate 24/7 for up to a 6-month stay. They will transition into our supportive housing. A supervisor will be present at all times at the shelter. All clients will go through an intake process to screen for behavior that could have a detrimental impact on other clients and to determine if a higher level of care is required. Additionally we will make an assessment of the family/individual and determine what additional services – i.e. healthcare, veterans’ benefits, etc. – may be available to the client, and to create a program to start their transition journey from homeless to home. 

We have several partners in place who are committed to helping us. We have raised half of the funds needed to run the shelter. We encourage everyone in the community to talk to us about their concerns, questions, and ways they can support of our efforts.