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Posted on: July 2, 2020

Update on City Actions to Resolve Encampments

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Homelessness Services Update

UPDATE - 7.2.20

The City is continuing to monitor encampments in Santa Rosa’s Downtown area following last week’s efforts to address encampments at the 101 underpasses and College Avenue and will focus next on encampments creating health and safety hazards in the Corporate Center Parkway area. Despite on-going efforts to provide individuals within these encampments with support and services, the hazards occurring within these encampments amid the COVID-19 emergency have reached a tipping point, prompting the City to activate its Homeless Encampment Assistance Program to address immediate health, environmental and safety issues.

Outreach is underway to engage individuals in the Corporate Center Parkway area into shelter and services at the City’s Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter and the Safe Social Distancing Program in a section of the parking lot at Finley Community Center. Efforts to address illegal dumping into storm drains, vehicle code violations and criminal activity has been ongoing for a number of weeks. Resolution of encampments in this area is scheduled for mid-July barring unforeseen developments.

Additionally, a City Council study session on homeless services programming is planned for Tuesday, July 7th. The Study Session will include an overview of existing long-term programs, temporary emergency programs related to COVID-19 emergency response, and new program concepts including innovative housing solutions, funding options and regional approaches. Some ideas to be considered include restoring shelter capacity at the Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter through development of new Sprung Structures, creating a safe parking program, and developing new strategies to replace  COVID-19 programs currently in place. TIME, AGENDA AND PARTICIPATION INFORMATION TO BE POSTED HERE 

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UPDATE - 6.25.20

The City resumed its Homeless Encampment Assistance Process (HEAP) on Wednesday, June 24 to address encampments located under the Highway 101 overpasses in the Downtown corridor and College Avenue. Amid the COVID-19 Health emergency, additional health and safety concerns within these encampments had reached a tipping point leading to the need for the clean-up of the areas. The project was paused temporarily while the County of Sonoma Department of Health Services completed COVID-19 testing of individuals in these encampment areas over several days. Thankfully, the County reported no positive test results after completing testing of all within the encampment areas.

The City anticipates efforts to address the underpass will conclude by the end of this week (6/26). The process went smoothly and there was success in connecting a number of individuals experiencing homelessness within the encampment area to offered services. Of the individuals that the Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) contacted, 33 initially accepted services at the City’s Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter or the Safe Social Distancing Program in the parking lot of Finley Community Center. HOST is currently working to place these individuals in these City-operated programs.

During the cleanup, the Police Department made arrests for warrants, probation violations, a parole hold, and drug-related charges, and unlawful camping. The Police Department also coordinated with the City’s Public Works crews to ensure the proper storage of personal belongings of value discovered during clean-up efforts. Following the removal of more than 500 cubic yards of debris, Public Works will be cleaning and sanitizing the areas surrounding the encampments.

The City will next focus efforts to address encampments creating health and safety hazards in the Corporate Center Parkway area – more information on this will be provided soon. For additional information on the City’s response to homelessness amid the public health emergency, visit SRCity.org/COVID19HomelessSupport.

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UPDATE - 6.18.20

Recently, the City of Santa Rosa determined that the severity of conditions created by encampments in specific areas of the community required the activation of the City’s Homeless Encampment Assistance Program (HEAP). 

Health and safety concerns within these encampments amid the COVID-19 emergency has reached a tipping point and plans were in place to begin removal and clean-up of the encampments located under the Highway 101 overpasses in the Downtown corridor and College Avenue on June 16th after being temporarily delayed by the City’s June 4th declaration of a local State of Emergency, the recent Curfew Order, and demonstrations in the downtown area.

This week, the County of Sonoma notified the City that individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 had recently spent time in these encampment areas. Upon learning of this news – and at the request of the Sonoma County Health Officer – the City is now pausing plans to move forward with cleanup of the encampment to allow for the County to conduct COVID-19 testing of individuals in these areas. The County has assured the City that addressing this public health concern is a top priority and the County will be ramping up testing of individuals in these areas through the weekend and early next week. The County has indicated testing will be complete by Tuesday, June 23rd.

Barring unforeseen developments, the City intends to resume the original cleanup plans for the encampments under the Highway 101 overpasses in the downtown corridor and College Avenue no later than Wednesday morning, June 24th.

For more information on the City’s efforts to address Homelessness during the Public Health Emergency, read additional recent updates at the following link: srcity.org/COVID19HomelessSupport


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