If the City is investing more to address homelessness, why are we seeing more homeless people in our community?

While there has been an increase in the visibility of homelessness, there has been a decrease in the number of people who are homeless in Sonoma County. The homeless count conducted as part of the 2020 Sonoma County Point-In-Time Census and Survey showed a 39-percent decrease in homelessness since 2011, from 4,539 individuals to 2,745 individuals. However, 62% of those individuals in 2020 were living in unsheltered and often visible conditions, such as in cars, on the street, and other public spaces not meant for human habitation. The remaining 38% were living in emergency shelters. Given the complex nature of homelessness and its many contributing factors, it is difficult to pinpoint as to why the issue has become more prominent in recent years. One factor certainly is Sonoma County’s housing market, which is one of the least affordable in the nation. In fact, 70% of those surveyed in the Point-In-Time Census reported affordable rent as the primary obstacle to obtaining permanent housing to end their homelessness. Another consideration to keep in mind is the fact that acceptance of homeless services and shelter is voluntary. While the City is required to offer services and shelter, no one can be forced to accept.

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1. What is the City doing to address the growing homeless problem in our community?
2. If the City is investing more to address homelessness, why are we seeing more homeless people in our community?
3. Where can people go rather than living on the streets?
4. What is being done about encampments on public property?
5. What can be done about encampments on private property?
6. What are the legal constraints to the City’s ability to address encampments?
7. Why isn’t the City enforcing laws about vehicles/RVs parked on City streets for more than 72 hours?
8. Why does the City move people from one encampment location to the next?
9. What is being done about illegal activity?
10. Is it helpful for me to give assistance directly to someone who is homeless, such as food, clothing, or money?
11. How can I help?