Attached below this post is a public comment made to the Home Sonoma Leadership Council by an expert in homeless provider programs and systems who also has intimate knowledge of our local problems.
Sonoma County has attempted to deploy numerous programs to “end homelessness” for the past 13 years. They tout a “35% reduction” without any proof, not telling the public that it had to do with changes in HUD definitions and count methodology. We didn’t “house” over 1200 people over a two year period(2013-2015). Since 2015 we’ve had virtually no change in the number of homeless and the tiny percentages they try and trumpet as success are statistically insignificant since they do not accurately count nor track those in their care.
Take a look at all the stuff Sonoma County has tried. They get an impressive presentation by a homeless consultant and run with their suggestions. Or tour one program elsewhere, again with an impressive presentation and no real proof that it did anything to significantly decrease homelessness.
Finally, realize that almost NOTHING in the literature “proving” that housing first keeps people housed long term. Almost all studies only look at two years or less. Local officials love to claim they housed thousands. What they don’t tell you is it could be as little as 6 months to a year that a person stayed in whatever housing solution they put them in. After that they have no idea where they are. Sonoma County has a 28% success rate in keeping people housed past two years. NHIP Data
We need local officials to humble themselves and admit their version of homeless reduction is not working. We need to adapt working programs and solutions that are verified from elsewhere to address unique local needs. We need public/private partnerships. We need PFS-“Pay For Success” programs that get funded when they show verifiable metrics of success. We need community investment and buy in on programs that have demonstrable proof they work for the many we are trying to serve.