9/8/2021 Update of Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

To address the health and safety issues at the Roberts Lake Park and Ride lot, we posted the attached notice there today.

This site poses health and safety risks due to its proximity and access to the SMART tracks and crossing. In the past two years, there have been five deaths at that crossing, including two individuals who were experiencing homelessness. For this reason, the City will be closing this to site to all public access.

Over the past five weeks since the camp formed, the City’s service providers have been actively engaging the residents at this camp, offering services, shelter and housing. We have now secured sufficient beds to enable the City to offer shelter to all people staying at the site and will be closing the site to all public access. We are also addressing requests for reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We have consulted with the County Department of Public Health which has indicated that we can proceed. The County Health Department has been actively offering COVID testing, masks and education to those staying at the camp, and working collaboratively with the City and our service providers, including Catholic Charities and Unsheltered Friends Outreach.

We expect to close and fence off the Park and Ride lot and nearby property to all public access on Friday.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness.

Notice to Vacate (Eng) Notice to Vacate (Sp)



9/7/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

We would like our residents to know that we will be holding a special City Council meeting on homelessness next Tuesday, September 14 at 2:30p.m. in City Hall

We will  explore the potential for adding housing for those experiencing homelessness. This could include short-term housing, such as modular units, as a form of temporary shelter. It could also include options for permanent housing. We anticipate identifying potential sites in the city for these facilities. 

Staff will be recommending that we pursue projects to add short-term and permanent housing. Staff intends to present a preliminary screening and prioritized list of potential housing sites.

We will have a staff report available on the City’s website on Thursday afternoon that will identify the potential sites, funding, and other issues. We encourage residents to share your thoughts on this topic. You can do so by commenting at the Council meeting, or by submitting comments in advance of the meeting at publiccomment@rpcity.org (Note that the e-mails will not be read for the record but will be provided to the Council.) You can also e-mail Councilmembers directly or submit comments in writing. 

This effort is being driven in part by the California Home Key grant program where the State of California is providing $3.5 billion for housing those experiencing homelessness. 

9/3/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

Today’s update for the Roberts Lake Park and Ride is that we are continuing to actively pursue housing options for people at the site. We will provide an update early next week. 

9/2/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment:

Here is today’s update on the encampment at the Roberts Lake Park and Ride.

  • The clean up that we conducted on Tuesday has reduced the health and safety risks. We continue to monitor the site for these risks.

  • One person who was at the site is now housed at a local shelter.

  • We continue to pursue options for additional beds for people at the site.

 

As noted in prior updates:

 

  • We are checking on the verifications for people who may be eligible for housing related to their COVID-19 vulnerability.

  • The Courts have limited our ability to prohibit camping without first providing options for adequate shelter or housing.

  • As part of the overall safety at the SMART intersection, we have issued warnings and cited vehicles that are parked overnight as parking is prohibited from 1-4 a.m. Police are continuing to patrol the area, as they do throughout the City.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness

9/1/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

Here is today’s update on the encampment at the Roberts Lake Park and Ride.

The primary change is that, to reduce health and safety risks, we completed the clean up of trash and debris yesterday.

As noted in prior updates:

  • We are checking on the verifications for people who may be eligible for housing related to their COVID-19 vulnerability.
  • We are working with both Sam Jones Hall in Santa Rosa, the County’s largest shelter, and Catholic Charities, which operates the facility, to determine how many beds may be available for housing those at the encampment.
  • The Courts have limited our ability to prohibit camping without first providing options for adequate shelter or housing.
  • As part of the overall safety at the SMART intersection, we have issued warnings and cited vehicles that are parked overnight as parking is prohibited from 1-4 a.m. Police are continuing to patrol the area, as they do throughout the City

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness

8/31/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

Here is today’s update on the encampment at the Roberts Lake Park and Ride:

  • To reduce health and safety risks, we conducted a clean up of trash and debris at the site today; see the attached photos.
  • The County is conducting background checks on 7 high-risk individuals in anticipation of moving them into secured shelter spaces.
  • We are unsure how many beds will be available at Sam Jones Hall in Santa Rosa, the County’s largest shelter, for those at the encampment. We are working with Catholic Charities, which operates the facility; as beds become available, they will be offered to those at the encampment.

As noted in our prior updates, we are continually looking for housing that works for each individual. We have secured 8 shelter beds at the County’s second largest shelter, the Mary Isaac Center in Petaluma, and are working with shelter operators to identify additional capacity. There are never enough beds in local shelters, and limitations because of Covid have reduced the number of beds from normal levels.

Courts have ruled that the City cannot require people to leave the site without first providing adequate shelter or housing opportunities.

We are issuing warnings and citing vehicles that are parked overnight. We prohibit parking from 1-4 a.m. as part of promoting safety at the SMART intersection. Police are continuing to patrol the area, as they do throughout the City.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness

roberts lake park and ride

 

8/30/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

Here is today’s update on the encampment at the Roberts Lake Park and Ride:

  • We are conducting background checks for five individuals we expect to move to beds at the Windsor Hotel, which is housing those with medical needs or at high risk for Covid, and two individuals for Los Guilicos Village. We expect those to be completed shortly.
  • We have secured eight beds at the Mary Isaac Center in Petaluma, the County’s second largest shelter, and anticipate some people moving there this week.
  • We are unsure how many beds will be available at Sam Jones Hall in Santa Rosa, the County’s largest shelter, for those at the encampment. We are working on this with Catholic Charities, which operates the facility.
  • We will be conducting a clean up of trash and debris tomorrow morning; people will not be required to leave the site.

As noted in our prior updates:

  • We are continually looking for a housing option that works for each individual. There are never enough beds in local shelters, especially with Covid. We are looking into the question of requiring people to leave if they do not accept shelter when we offer it to them.
  • Courts have ruled that the City cannot require people to leave the site without first providing adequate shelter or housing opportunities. We are looking into the question of requiring people to leave if they do not accept shelter when we offer it to them.
  • We are issuing warnings and citing vehicles that are parked overnight. We prohibit parking from 1-4 a.m. as part of promoting safety at the SMART intersection. Police are continuing to patrol the area, as they do throughout the City.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness

8/27/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

  • We are working to find a housing option that works for each individual through Catholic Charities, the Rohnert Park Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO) group, and County staff.
  • Housing options will likely include beds at the Los Guilicos facility operated by the County, beds at the two largest homeless shelters in the County (Sam Jones Hall in Santa Rosa, and the Mary Isaak Center in Petaluma), and a hotel operated by the County in Windsor to for those with medical needs or at higher risk from Covid.
  • While Sam Jones Hall is expanding its capacity today, it will still be well below normal capacity because of Covid. Additionally, individuals from other parts of the County have been waiting for some of the now-opened beds and thus not all are available for those at the Rohnert Park encampment.
  • We will conduct a clean up of trash and debris at the site on Tuesday of next week. This will not require people to leave the site.
  • Courts have ruled that the City cannot require people to leave the site without first providing adequate shelter or housing opportunities. There are never enough beds in Sonoma County’s shelters to house all of those experiencing homelessness, and this is even more challenging with COVID. We are looking into the question of requiring people to leave if they do not accept shelter when we offer it to them.
  • We have started issuing warnings and citing vehicles that are parked overnight. We prohibit parking from 1-4 a.m. as part of promoting safety at the SMART intersection.
  • Police are continuing to patrol the area, as they do throughout the City.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness.

8/26/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

  • We are working daily to find a housing option that works for each individual through Catholic Charities, the Rohnert Park Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO) group, and County staff.
  • Sam Jones Hall, a homeless shelter in Santa Rosa, will start accepting new referrals on Friday, but has few openings.
  • We will conduct a clean up of trash and debris at the site on Tuesday of next week. This will not require people to leave the site.
  • Courts have ruled that the City cannot require people to leave the site without first providing adequate shelter or housing opportunities. There are never enough beds in Sonoma County’s shelters to house all of those experiencing homelessness, and this is even more challenging with COVID. We are looking into the question of requiring people to leave if they do not accept shelter when we offer it to them.
  • We have started issuing warnings and citing vehicles that are parked overnight. We prohibit parking from 1-4 a.m. as part of promoting safety at the SMART intersection.
  • We have increased police patrols in the area, and our Public Safety Officers already patrol the paths along our creeks.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness

#homeless #homelessness

8/25/2021 Update on Roberts Lake Park and Ride Encampment

  • At 9am, there were 19 tents, 8 vehicles and 1 RV in the park and ride.
  • The City notified individuals at the park and ride today of a plan to remove trash and debris from the site. This will occur on Tuesday, August 31. It will not require people to leave the site but will help ensure the health and safety of the individuals living there as well as the general community.
  • Based on recent court decisions, the City cannot require people to leave the site without first providing adequate shelter or housing options. There are never enough beds in Sonoma County’s shelters to house all of those experiencing homelessness, and this is even more challenging with COVID.
  • The Catholic Charities Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST), who provide outreach services to individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the City, are continuing to actively engage and offer shelter, housing and other services focused on helping individuals become housed.
  • At the City’s request, the County has also deployed their behavioral health outreach team to engage, again focused on helping individuals become housed. Additionally, the County has committed some beds in their shelter programs to individuals living at the park and ride.

To learn more about the City’s response to homelessness or to join the community-led Homelessness Roundtable, check out www.rpcity.org/homelessness

#homeless #homelessness

ROHNERT PARK’S RESPONSE TO HOMELESSNESS

Rohnert Park is working closely with community organizations, government agencies and experts in the homeless services field to address and ultimately end homelessness in our City.  The City Council identified homelessness as a top priority in January 2021 and has dedicated $1.3 million in Fiscal Year 2021-2022 to fund solutions to this pressing issue. 

Read on to learn more about the interventions Rohnert Park has implemented.


Encampment Response
The health and safety of our residents, sheltered and unsheltered, is our highest priority. Encampments often create health and safety risks for the community and for the individuals living in them. When that occurs, or when an encampment interferes with the public’s use of public property, creates risks of imminent injury or property damage, or has criminal activity or aggressive behavior from those living in them, the City will clean up the encampment. This includes removal of materials, pruning trees and vegetation, and sorting and storing any valuable items. Our practice includes trying to link those in encampments to services through Catholic Charities Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) as a first step when we come across encampments.

Homeless Outreach

Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST)
This fiscal year, the City is providing $127,335 to Catholic Charities to fund outreach services to individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park.  A dedicated team of three skilled outreach workers from the Catholic Charities Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) are in the field in Rohnert Park four days per week providing services to unsheltered individuals. These services include connecting individuals with housing options, accessing shelter, obtaining government identification, increasing income, connecting with medical, mental health and substance use services, and meeting some of their basic needs.  HOST outreach workers engage with unsheltered individuals in various settings including encampments, vehicles, and service hubs like the weekly mobile shower program.

Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO)

Unsheltered Friends Outreach (UFO) was started by two Rohnert Park residents who wanted to help their unsheltered fellow community members.  What began as an ad hoc volunteer group operating entirely with donated goods and funds has become a volunteer-led non-profit organization partnering with the city to meet the basic survival needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. This Fiscal Year the City is providing $36,000 to UFO to fund these survival services including providing meals, clothing, toiletries and a weekly mobile shower program.  UFO also collaborates closely with HOST and other local homeless service providers to connect homeless individuals to housing and shelter options. 

By-Name List

The City is currently developing a By-Name List (BNL) to track and identify the needs of each individual experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park.  In addition to tracking the changing composition and needs of Rohnert Park’s unsheltered citizens in real time, this list will also help us prioritize those with higher needs for supportive services and permanent housing opportunities.  Though the list will focus on Rohnert Park, it is part of a larger regional effort to better track the needs of homeless individuals in Sonoma County across systems of care and to develop permanent housing solutions tailored to the needs of each individual.

 Permanent Housing

Catholic Charities - Rapid Re-Housing & Master Lease
The City is providing $433,224 this fiscal year to Catholic Charities to operate a Rapid Re-housing program, which provides financial assistance and support to help people experiencing homelessness get back into a home of their own.  Catholic Charities will also ‘master lease’ several units to provide housing for individuals with higher needs who may not qualify for an apartment on their own due to issues such as poor credit or lack of housing history.  Financial assistance can include security deposit, portion of monthly rent for an average of six months, and assistance paying for utilities. Supports include assistance with budgeting and increasing income, and educating on landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities. 

SHARE Sonoma County – Affordable Shared Housing
The City is providing $150,000 this fiscal year to SHARE Sonoma County to match home-seekers who are either homeless or at-risk of homelessness with home-providers who have an extra room in their house.  Support is provided to both parties for the duration of their living arrangement.  SHARE also creates other affordable permanent housing opportunities for individuals through their shared “Community Homes.”  These homes provide housing opportunities to individuals are unable to qualify for an apartment on their own due to barriers like low income or poor credit.

Working with Property Owners

The City is providing suggestions to owners of private property, particularly businesses with large parking lots, on how they can address homelessness on their properties. Trespassing laws can be difficult to enforce.
Enforcing Parking Restrictions
The City has established and enforces restrictions on overnight parking in several locations, including our parks. We also enforce the requirement that vehicles not be parked on public streets for more than 72 consecutive hours in the same location.

Homelessness Roundtable

The City convenes a monthly meeting to engage community members who want to be part of the solution to homeless in Rohnert Park. Learn more about the Homelessness Roundtable here.