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Sonoma County Gazette
River Community Advocates

Homeless Task Force Weighs In 

Nov 23, 2017
by Mark Emmett, River Community Advocates


The Lower River Homeless Task Force committee was asked to decide how to best utilize $750,000 of the $1m allocated by the County for fiscal year 2017-2018, to try and help solve the Lower River homeless problem.  $250,000 of the original $1m was allocated to West County Community Services before the Task Force convened, for rapid re-housing. Here’s a detailed review summary by the County regarding the Lower River Homeless Task Force selection committee decisions made on October 30th, which were approved by the entire Task Force on November 16th. The Board of Supervisors will review the panel’s decisions on December 5th at the BOS meeting, which is open to the public for comment. If approved by the BOS, funding will occur in January.

The Guerneville Community Alliance (working under the Russian River Alliance non-profit) proposal for a $50,000 workforce grant to assist local service and hospitality workers with emergency rent, rental deposits, utilities, and food, to try and help prevent our workers from becoming our future homeless was approved. It should be noted that the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation proposal includes hiring an outreach worker to transport homeless people from the streets to legal shelter, detox, or mental health services, as an alternative to leaving them on the streets, being taken to jail, or emergency rooms if they don’t really need that. The concept is based on the Sober Circle model that’s been very effective in Petaluma, reducing their homeless population and emergency responder calls for service about 60% in a three year period. We’re very pleased to see this finally happening, after advocating for it for a long time. Thank you selection committee, you did a great job!

Lower Russian River Homeless Housing and Services Selection Committee Review Panel Decision Summary October 30th, 2017 Panelists – Rob Cassady, Kathy Halloran, Herman Hernandez Sr., Dana Pedersen, Mario Torrigino, Jed Heibel and Robin Johnson removed themselves from the panel due to conflicts of interest once the applicants were made known.


General Points In the wake of the fire, the panel viewed funding decisions through the lens of which proposals had the greatest opportunity to bolster the housing supply. The panel’s decision not to fund certain proposals or to provide less than what was asked was not based on lack of merit of the application, but rather the recognition that housing needs to be prioritized and other projects might be better able to acquire their sought funding elsewhere or at a later time.

Coaction Institute No Funding The proposal provided good research for the program’s theory of change but panelists were not convinced that it was proposing something different from existing data management systems (HMIS) and case management services that are already available.

Patrick McCaffrey Foundation - $300,000 The Patrick McCaffrey proposal stood out as nuanced and best adhered to the principles of Housing First. The Tiny House plan provides a direct strategy for creating housing for homeless. Furthermore, the transportation component would reduce the strain on ambulance and other emergency services, which is a critical concern. The pilot of this model has been successful in Petaluma. The proposal is not receiving the full amount requested because the panel felt that the half-time Community Sheriff component was a redundancy given the recent addition of a new Deputy assigned to the Lower Russian River.

Restorative Resources No Funding The focus of this proposal is restorative conferencing and education. Panelists liked the idea, but did not feel it was an immediate need or appropriate use for this particular round of funding. The model had not been tested on a population similar to that targeted by the Request for Proposals nor was there a great deal of information on the effectiveness of the program in achieving the desired outcomes.

Russian River Alliance - $50,000 This proposal takes a different approach by looking at homeless prevention and promoting housing security for hospitality workers. The Panel appreciated the nuanced preventative approach and decided to award the full funding request.

Russian River Area Resources and Advocates(RRARA) - $20,000 Panelists agreed that this proposal had merit, but weren’t sure of the need to spend $41K on the half-time RRARA coordinator, especially since there is already funding for this position from the school district. Furthermore, this isn’t a direct housing service, though it facilitates discussion around housing issues.

Russian River Chamber of Commerce No Funding The panel determined that with the addition of an extra deputy already being assigned to the Lower Russian River area, hiring a private security firm was a duplicate effort. This may be a good investment at a later time or from a different source of funding as that becomes available.

Russian Riverkeeper/Clean River Alliance - $100,000 The Panelists agreed that expanding the work of the Clean River Alliance to promote clean camping and mitigate the effects of existing encampments is a critical service and warranted support. The funding request was cut, however, for two primary reasons: 1. The panel felt that the budgeted allotment for salary was too high. 2. The panel wanted to prioritize projects which provided direct housing services.

Social Advocates for Youth - $58,076.52 The panel agreed that SAY could produce significant outcomes with the relatively small amount of money requested.

West County Community Services - $221,045 The panel’s decision to reduce the amount asked for by WCCS was based on two primary reasons: 1. $250,000 has already been committed to Rapid Rehousing for Fiscal Year 17/18. 2. The proposal seeks to site and locate housing in a very tight market with limited viable sites.

If you would like to learn more about the Lower River Area Community Alliances, become involved as a volunteer, or if you have some community concerns or solutions you would like to share, you can “like” our Guerneville Community Alliance and/or Russian River Alliance FB pages. You can also contact Mark Emmett at 707-529-0534 (Guerneville) or Chuck Ramsey at 707-239-1639 (Monte Rio).


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