Healthy and Safe Communities

Provide quality and equitable housing, health, and human services for all.

Goal 4, Objective 5

Continue to collaborate with local partners, including Continuum of Care, to advance planning and policies to address homelessness.
On Track 50%

Updated: January 2023

Summary of Objective Implementation Status

This Objective envisioned a stronger collaboration, communications and networking effort between the County, the Continuum of Care (CoC), cities, and service providers to advance homelessness efforts.  The implementation  priorities are:

  • Maintain the County Administrator/City Managers work group.
  • Engage with the CoC Board with a spirit of transparency and openness, sharing information and knowledge with our Board partners.
  • Regularly update the Board of Supervisors, the Community Development Committee, the Cities and Towns Advisory Committee (CTAC), cities and the CoC Board on items of interest, including providing a monthly (or at another schedule reflecting the timeliness of a specific issue) emailed update to all parties interested in the Community Development Commission (CDC), CoC, and housing and homelessness issues with current information and links to resources.
  • Develop informational tools to help collaborate, such as:
    • A funding and timing document, showing what outside funds go where, their eligibility, and pending releases of Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs).
    • A master calendar of meetings.
    • Explanatory documents, helping show the housing pipeline, who provides what services in Sonoma County, and more.
  • Convene regular “all hands” strategy sessions on Zoom or in person that allow for strategizing and best practices team-sharing regarding items of key interest.  These sessions will take place on a monthly basis starting in January 2022.

Key Milestone Update

  • The County Administrators Office – City Manager team meets regularly on the 3rd Thursday of the month (monthly right now, possibly moving to quarterly).  In addition, the County Administrator meets regularly with city managers, and CDC interim director regularly corresponds with City contacts on CoC and related issues.
  • The CoC Lead Agency’s sense is that sharing and cooperative, transparent information has increased.
  • Regular updates on housing and homelessness is an important goal but as yet unmet.  Importantly, the 2023-2027 Draft Strategic Plan on Homelessness includes this as a strategy with action steps:
    • Strategy 3.5: Engage the community in the effort to end homelessness in Sonoma County
      • 3.5a: Develop a communication strategy that is:
        • Public-facing to ensure Sonoma County residents are regularly informed of the progress made on the strategic plan, including successes and challenges. Use social media, a progress dashboard, and regular communications to update the community on performance (including comparisons to State and National data, as well as trends over the previous 3-year period), accomplishments, and challenges.
        • Client-facing to assist service providers in providing strong communications to and for client populations, and
        • Provided via culturally competent and correct language and media approaches to meet Sonoma County residents’ needs.
      • 3.5b: Develop materials to explain the use and success of evidence-based best practices.
      • 3.5c: Organize regular and consistent opportunities for community support such as calls to action, funding needs, donation drives, job fairs, housing opportunities, shadowing opportunities for interested parties/the public with service providers, etc.
      • 3.5d: Develop funding streams from the private sector, philanthropic organizations, and private donors to support individual providers.
  • Information tools (including a funding calendar) was developed for the CoC.
  • With a consultant’s help, a long-term funding plan for homelessness programs in Sonoma County that shows sources and possible uses of funds is nearly completed.
  • There is a need for more explanatory documents, such as systems mapping for the public and for our clients experiencing homelessness
  • We have helped convene two different best practices/stakeholders groups, that now meet regularly:
    • A Service Providers Roundtable (convened by the service providers themselves) who meet twice a month.
    • A Homekey Collaborators group (meets monthly convened by CDC staff).

Coordination and Partnership Update

Each of the above actions has involved significant collaboration with service provider and city partners, as shown in the above section.  The level of collaboration and support is from the CDC/CoC has significantly increased.

Community, Equity, and Climate Update

There are two challenges in terms of improving the system’s ability to be more equitable.  One is the representation and voices of persons with lived experience in homelessness.  This has been significantly improved in 2022 via the full operation of the Lived Experience Advisory and Planning Board (LEAP) to the CoC.  A stipend program first funded by the Community Foundation Sonoma County was vital to making the LEAP work well, as some of the only persons not being paid to attend CoC Board and subcommittee meetings were the LE representatives.  In 2023, a Youth Action Board (YAB) to the CoC, including additional representation from the LGBTQI+ community might be added.  Importantly, Strategy 3.3 of the CoC Strategic Plan says: Ensure the voices of individuals with lived experience of homelessness are consistently incorporated into planning and evaluating the homeless system of care.  This Strategy has four action steps.

The other challenge is to add Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voices to the System of Care.  The CoC Strategic Plan also speaks to this, including Action Steps to:

3.7b: Track access and outcomes data by age, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

3.7c: Ensure that BIPOC are provided equal services within the homeless system of care.

3.7d: Address racial and ethnic disparities access and outcomes of the homeless system of care.

3.7e: Ensure that the CoC Board’s and the system of care’s racial and ethnic representation reflects the population of Sonoma County’s homeless community. Consider updating the Charter to include designated seats for BIPOC members.

3.7f: Build up Equity-Centered Results-Based Accountability (RBA) framework

Funding Narrative

Funding for these efforts is generally included and significantly funded via:

  • County discretionary fund support for the CoC’s Lead Agency and various service providers’ administrative and related costs – about $2.6M in FY 22-23;
  • Aspects of the US HUD Continuum of Care Annual Renewal Demand allocation (roughly $4M/year);
  • Portions of HHAP-3 and HHAP-4 (see Healthy and Safe Communities Goal 3, Objective 3 – HSC3.3 – for more detail) generally allocated at about $8.5M to the CoC and to the County together.