County launches homeless program
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A local coalition, spearheaded by the Sonoma County Continuum of Care, has teamed up with the nationally renowned organization, Common Ground, and its 100,000 Homes Campaign (www.100Khomes.org) to create a registry of local unsheltered homeless people and prioritize the most vulnerable for housing.

The program has become a national model for reducing homelessness across the country. Volunteers are critical to the effort, and are asked to contact the Community Development Commission at (707) 565-7548 if interested in participating.

An intensive outreach effort during the span of three days will focus on the 25 census tracts with the highest density of unsheltered homeless persons. In the early hours of April 7-9, survey teams will traverse the selected census tracts to find, identify and survey 1,700 people – the majority of the county’s unsheltered homeless persons. The survey will yield an acuity score that will enable service providers to target housing to those most in need.

“The county’s homeless services agencies do a tremendous job in helping homeless persons and families that seek their help,” County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Rabbitt said. “Tragically, though, many of the most vulnerable are socially isolated or, for other reasons, do not receive help. The survey tackles this problem head-on by going out, locating and engaging those people rather than hoping that they seek services on their own.”

Executive Director of the Community Development Commission, Kathleen Kane, made the call for volunteers, “We need approximately 125 volunteers to work in teams with paid homeless guides, to interview homeless individuals for the registry. It is best if volunteers can commit for all three days, but not absolutely necessary.”

Each volunteer team will work in a designated area the entire three days of the survey gathering. To be part of a survey team, volunteers will need to participate in a one-hour training session related to interviewing homeless people and completing the survey forms.

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