Sonoma County's initial 10-Year Homeless Action Plan was developed in 2006, and adopted and endorsed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in early 2007. The 2014 Plan Update is now available and can be downloaded here.

The Executive Summary is replicated below.

Building HOMES: A Policy Maker's Toolbox for Ending Homelessness
In 2015, the Sonoma County Community Development Commission presented to the County Board of Supervisors a plan to develop the housing needed for the success of the10-Year Plan above. The Building HOMES Toolbox can be downloaded here:


Executive Summary
The Sonoma County Continuum of Care (CoC) provides a “collective impact” infrastructure for planning and action towards ending homelessness in Sonoma County. Three U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) entitlement jurisdictions—the City of Santa Rosa, the City of Petaluma, and the “Urban County” (comprised of the unincorporated County and seven smaller cities)—jointly convened the CoC in 1997. The CoC functions as a “joint powers” collaborative, with the Sonoma County Community Development Commission (SCCDC) as lead agency.

Since the Sonoma County CoC adopted its 10-Year Homeless Action Plan in 2007, there have been enormous changes that led to this Plan Update: 1) the Great Recession reversed much of the progress made in the Plan’s first few years; 2) the depressed housing industry and loss of affordable housing funding sources rendered some of the Plan’s strategies obsolete; 3) the Homeless Emergency And Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 gave rise to the first Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness; and 4) aligning the 10-Year Plan with the Upstream and Health Action “collective impact” efforts had become a high priority.

Homelessness in Sonoma County
Homelessness is a dire and growing problem in Sonoma County: 4,280 homeless people were counted on a single night in January 2013 and 3,107 were counted in 2015, and about 9,749 residents experience homelessness every year—2% of Sonoma County’s overall population. This yields a regional homelessness rate that is almost four times the national rate. The vast majority of local homeless persons are single adults, but there are beds for fewer than 1 in 4.
Currently, Sonoma County’s homeless population has been homeless longer and is more medically compromised than in the past. One-third of the homeless population is under the age of 25, and despite significant investments in the past 7 years, the number of homeless veterans remains high.
Sonoma County’s high rate of homelessness has emerged against the background of a severe shortage of affordable housing. By every measure, Sonoma County is one of the nation’s least affordable housing markets. Recent trends have created new obstacles to homeless persons who seek to re-enter housing.

Housing + Health + Income: Key Goals
This Plan Update challenges our community to ensure that all Sonoma County residents have an opportunity to access the building blocks that make up the Plan’s key goals: Housing + Health + Income.

1. HOUSING: Increase permanent affordable housing to meet the need—4,128 units
Ending homelessness in Sonoma County requires 1,015 affordable housing units for extremely low income households; Rapid Re-Housing assistance for 959 households; and 2,154 units of Permanent Supportive Housing. Aligning with national research and practice, the CoC prefers a “Housing First” approach that eliminates barriers or conditions to housing, while providing services to stabilize homeless people.

2. HEALTH: Ensure access to integrated health care
Ending homelessness requires enrolling the vast majority of homeless persons in health coverage and establishing healthcare homes. Partnerships with clinics and County Departments of Health Services and Human Services are essential to ensure that homeless persons may access primary and behavioral health care.

3. INCOME: Increase incomes
Ending homelessness will require a two-pronged income initiative to address the vast majority of homeless adults who have no income. The Work Readiness Initiative will develop pathways to earned income for approximately half of homeless adults who can work. This collaborative Initiative will expand pre-employment soft-skills preparation and training in homeless services settings, with the goal of connecting participants to existing County services and employment. Half of all homeless adults are disabled: a Disability Income Initiative will convene the many partners providing benefits advocacy, to create the necessary capacity to garner them benefits. This Initiative will use national best practices to prepare the strongest possible initial applications, increasing successful first-time claims from 15% to well over half of applications.

Creating the Conditions to End Homelessness
This Plan Update notes policy changes that could more quickly expand affordable housing, such as preferences or quotas in Housing Authority policies; public financing strategies; and converting existing large facilities to housing. It also summarizes activities needed to build nonprofit agency capacity to manage a much larger housing inventory. It focuses on evidence-informed, cost-effective interventions; putting housing best practices onto on the Upstream Portfolio; and utilizing new opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act.
Sonoma County’s Coordinated Intake Project will soon launch a “no-wrong-door,” single point of entry that will serve the most vulnerable people first. Services will be targeted more accurately to hasten the resolution of housing crises. State of the art system entry will require expansion of street outreach and homeless prevention services—and engaging institutional partners to divert people from homelessness on exit.

This Plan Update focuses on what is needed to end homelessness, not manage it. It proposes a $557.4 million investment in housing construction (including less costly conversions of existing large facilities), requiring a local construction investment of $167.2 million. Housing operations, rental subsidies and the income initiatives will require another $23 million annually. Appendices include detailed descriptions of how housing needs were estimated, housing cost estimates with resource development options, and a listing of proposed action steps.
Importantly, despite the great need, this Plan Update makes no projection of need for short-term emergency housing, winter shelter or other emergency efforts. Rather, it proposes evaluation of the many creative and promising emergency health strategies and homelessness prevention models, to identify the most cost-effective set of short-term interventions, in the context of the need for permanent affordable housing.
If a full commitment can be made to creating the necessary housing and services to end homelessness, community leaders will have the satisfaction of moving beyond expensive emergency measures. They will have the pleasure of knowing they made a real impact on an urgent issue that challenges the dignity of us all.


The original 10-Year Plan, and earlier reports, are below: