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Homelessness is a social issue that impacts all of our cities and communities in Sonoma County. It is an issue that requires a countywide, shared responsibility in planning and development of solutions. One of the critical factors in reducing homelessness is the recognition that the complex problems that lead to homelessness require specific programs and coordinated services directed to specific target populations. Sonoma County works together with other local jurisdictions to reduce homelessness through a variety of planning and funding processes.

Building Homes:

A Policy Maker’s Toolbox for ending homelessness by 2025. On August 25th, 2015, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in their role as the Sonoma County Community Development Commission, embraced the Toolbox as the focus for a vast ten year effort to end homelessness in all communities of Sonoma County. Built upon best practices and demonstrating the depth of the challenges before cities and the County, the Toolbox is a comprehensive set of options (or “tools”) for use to provide safe, secure and sustainable homes for those most in need.

This effort will begin with the development of an Implementation Plan which will be brought back to the Board and the launching of a robust effort to build new collaboration among all interest working to end the tragedy of homelessness.”

Sonoma County Homelessness Winter Weather Response Plan

The Sonoma County Homelessness Winter Weather Response Plan is designed for implementation in winter 2015-2016. Using a county-wide, multi-agency, multi-disciplinary approach, this plan will expand services and outreach to minimize illness and death among unsheltered homeless persons during extremes of winter weather. Events guided by this approach occur during defined weather conditions and are called "Code Blue.” During Code Blue events, homeless shelter capacity and supplementary services will be expanded to address the needs of the unsheltered population.

Download the Winter Weather Response Plan (PDF: 735 kB)

Definition of Homelessness

HUD defines four (4) categories of homelessness:

  1. Literally homeless, meaning an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:
    1. Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation;
    2. Is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state and local government programs); or
    3. Is exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution.

  2. Imminent Risk of Homelessness, meaning an individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence, provided that:
    1. Residence will be lost within 14 days of the date of application for homeless assistance;
    2. No subsequent residence has been identified; and
    3. The individual or family lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing

  3. Homeless under other Federal statutes, meaning an unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth, who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition, but who:
    1. Are defined as homeless under the other listed federal statutes;
    2. Have not had a lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing during the 60 days prior to the homeless assistance application;
    3. Have experienced persistent instability as measured by two moves or more during the preceding 60 days; and (iv)Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of teim due to special needs or barriers.

  4. Fleeing/Attempting to Flee DV, meaning any individual or family who:
    1. Is fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence;
    2. Has no other residence; and
    3. Lacks the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.

For more information, see (PDF).

See also Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 2010

Number of Homeless People in Sonoma County

To retain $2.5 million in annual federal funding for Sonoma County homeless programs, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) requires a biennial Homeless Count.

2016 Sonoma County Homeless Point-In-Time Survey & Census (PDF)

2015 Report on Homelessness in Sonoma County

2013 Report on Homelessness in Sonoma County (PDF)

The 2011 Sonoma County Homeless Count Survey was conducted on January 28, 2011 and found 4,539 homeless individuals.

2009 Sonoma County Homeless Count Survey (PDF)


Sonoma County’s Coordinated Intake Project offers a single access point for intake into all homeless services. Beginning in February 2015, families with children who are currently experiencing homelessness may enroll in the Coordinated Intake project by dialing 2-1-1 during business hours.

The Sonoma County 2-1-1 Community Resource Directory is staffed by volunteers who provide the link between people who have needs with the services that can alleviate those needs. Click on the link above or simply dial 2-1-1 on your phone.

The Sonoma County Taskforce for the Homeless publishes the Homeless Resource Guide listing many governmental agencies, housing authorities and non-profit organizations that provide housing and supportive services to homeless people throughout Sonoma County.

Sonoma County Funding for Homeless Programs

Sam Jones Hall: Jointly funded by the City of Santa Rosa, the Community Foundation Sonoma County, and the County of Sonoma, Sam Jones Hall is a homeless shelter in southwest Santa Rosa with transportation to and from downtown Santa Rosa. Clients must register at the Homeless Service Center. Sam Jones Hall is owned by the City of Santa Rosa and operated by Catholic Charities.

Funding Local Public Service Agencies: The Sonoma County Community Development Commission funds local public service agencies that provide homeless and related services using HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant (E.S.G.) and Community Development Block Grant (C.D.B.G.) as well as Sonoma County’s General Fund.

Sonoma County Continuum of Care

H.U.D. defines the Continuum of Care as a community plan to organize and deliver housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are homeless as they move to stable housing and maximum self-sufficiency. It includes action steps to end homeless and prevent a return to homelessness.

Sonoma County’s Continuum of Care is comprised of a broad coalition of nonprofits, public agencies, business organizations and private individuals working together to combat homelessness.

Sonoma County Homeless Management Information System

H.U.D. has been directed by Congress to work with jurisdictions to collect an array of data on homelessness, including unduplicated counts, use of services and the effectiveness of the local homeless assistance system. Sonoma County’s Homeless Management Information System is operated by the Sonoma County Community Development Commission.

For more information on any of the above, contact Daniel Overbury-Howland of the Community Development Commission at (707) 565-7541.

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