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Valley Forum: Homeless Action Sonoma lays out plan

Homeless Action Sonoma (HAS) is a less than 2-year-old nonprofit organization with the goal of “ending homelessness” in the city of Sonoma. We believe in a four-point program:

1. Educate - both the homeless and sheltered.

2. Integrate - these two separate communities into one of mutual support.

3. Innovate - with the integration, and work together to understand the needs of both and develop a facility that will benefit both.

4. Create - build a facility with the help of all it will benefit.

HAS now feels we are ready to build this facility after more than a year of working with the sheltered and unsheltered in the City of Sonoma, understanding their needs, and having a program that will work. (Our model is mirrored greatly on the Homeward Bound facility in Novato which has been successful for 20-plus years.)

We have been looking for a site to build on and have been unable to find a government-owned site that is agreeable to all. We have found property for sale that would be right for the facility in terms of zoning, location and size. As part of Phase 1 of our plan, we have put an offer on this property with the condition that we will be able to raise the $50,000 in funds needed.

The second phase of our commitment includes the cost of a winter shelter. There were four members of the homeless community of Sonoma that died this past winter. We feel a winter shelter is imperative. We are working with Quick Haven to have 10 small moveable units available by December at an estimated cost of $120,000. Add to that the cost of renting a trailer for toilets and showers for winter shelter and the cost of a program manager and security, as well as a second deposit on the property, and Phase 2 is approximately $200,000.

Phase 3 of the project would include the land purchase and cost of the facilities construction, approximately $6 million.

The goal is to have a transitional facility which would provide housing, services as necessary, and individual counseling on how to move forward. When clients have worked through the program they will be ready for market rate housing, or low income housing defined by the individual’s circumstances. Again, this is modeled after Homeward Bound; visit hbofm.org. We are also planning on a site manager’s apartment, a women’s shelter and medical rehab beds. There will be job training opportunities in both the hospitality industry and the wine industry. Others yet to be determined.

We know we are out of proper sequence but feel it is important to get our intentions presented. Today we have hired a grant writer and will be following the proper sequences. Visit hassonoma.org to see what we have been doing this last year and the successes we have had.

Annie Falandes is a Sonoma resident and the director of Homeless Action Sonoma.

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