Healthy and Safe Communities

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

Why is Healthy and Safe Communities a Strategic Plan Pillar?

Sonoma County’s collective well-being and prosperity are impacted by ensuring that Sonoma County provides quality and equitable housing and public safety services, as well as health and human services for all.

Data-driven Results:

Sonoma County’s Safety Net departments will track the results of their work together using Results-Based Accountability (RBA) for key programs to establish common outcome measures. Performance measures will focus on whether consumers of services are better off as a result of the services, as well as help to identify equitable distribution of services and address disproportionate racial and social impacts.

Integrating Sonoma County’s System of Care:

Historically, the services provided by the County of Sonoma have been disparate and siloed. In April 2017, the Board of Supervisors prioritized strengthening the County’s Safety Net System, which identifies the most vulnerable residents and develops coordinated strategies to improve their well-being, self-sufficiency, and recovery.

Under the ACCESS initiative, Sonoma County’s Safety Net departments, including Department of Health Services, Human Services Department, Community Development Commission, Child Support, Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation, Sheriff’s Office, and community-based organizations, are actively working to integrate services to ensure that community members of Sonoma County receive coordinated care, no matter how the individual enters the Safety Net System. A common goal is to reduce homelessness through this collaborative system of care.

More information about ACCESS

Healthy and Safe Communities: Goal 1 

Expand integrated system of care to address gaps in services to the County’s most vulnerable.

Objective 1:

Seek legislation to eliminate barriers to data sharing between Safety Net departments (Human Services, Health Services, Community Development Commission, Probation, Child Support and others) by 2023.

Work with impacted departments to determine current barriers to data sharing, and draft legislative language to present to Sonoma County legislators to carry forward.

Objective 2:

Identify gaps in the Safety Net system of services and identify areas where departments can address those gaps directly, and seek guidance from the Board when additional resources and/or policy direction is needed.

Gaps in the safety net system of services will be addressed with two key strategies: adding new multi-disciplinary cohorts; and developing new technology solutions to eliminate data and referral gaps across departments.

Objective 3:

Create a “no wrong door” approach where clients who need services across multiple departments and programs are able to access the array of services needed regardless of where they enter the system.

Support clients in navigating the County’s programs and services through the implementation of a No Wrong Door approach. This approach will consist of providing training, education and resources to County front line and lobby intake staff to raise their awareness about available county services and programs and ensure understanding of basic eligibility requirements of the most utilized programs across the safety net departments.

Healthy and Safe Communities: Goal 2 

Establish equitable and data-driven distribution of services.

Objective 1:

Safety Net departments will begin tracking data using results-based accountability (RBA) for key programs to establish common outcome measures, such as increased service access and utilization by communities of color, or decreased homelessness and poverty rates across the County.

RBA will be used for planning, reporting, and monitoring of performance measures of County programs and contracts with plans for complete adoption in the next 3-5 years. RBA will also be utilized to map where the greatest needs are for services, broken out by policy priority, region, Race/Ethnicity and other subgroupings of interest to the extent available.

Objective 2:

Develop and implement dashboard tracking tools to collect data on common outcome measures across Safety Net departments by 2026.

The safety net departments are in the process of integrating performance measure reporting and monitoring into all contracts with community partners over $50,000. This data is entered into the Clear Impact Scorecard to support departments contracting with CBOs to simplify data collection, standardize reporting, improve contract performance and measure progress over time.

Objective 3:

Identify and eliminate data gaps for underrepresented groups, and collaborate with the community to implement measures to mitigate the negative impacts caused by the lack of access to services by racial and ethnic groups that are disproportionately under-served by 2026. 

Staff will work with the ARPA Equity Work Group to gather and analyze data and to gather and review community input. To identify and eliminate data gaps for underrepresented groups, the Safety Net departments and the Office of Equity will receive specific training to learn to apply an equity + RBA model to track internal and external progress in addressing the needs of underrepresented groups and in advancing racial equity. With the ARPA Equity Work Group, the County will develop and apply a set of specific indicators and metrics to inform county investments.

Healthy and Safe Communities: Goal 3 

In collaboration with cities, increase affordable housing development near public transportation and easy access to services. 

Objective 1:

Rezone 59 unincorporated urban sites suitable for housing development, increasing density allowance from 354 units to 2,975 units, and partner with developers and the community to break ground on as many sites as possible by 2026.

Rezoning of sites expected to be completed by March 2022 through Board adoption of an EIR. The rezoning program will be a critical component of the county’s Housing Element update that must be certified by the State by January 2023. In addition to rezoning the sites and updating the Housing Element, additional outreach will be conducted to streamline as many sites as possible by 2026.

Objective 2:

Identify and leverage grant funding sources for permanent supportive and affordable housing development.

The CDC will collaborate with partners in cities and the Continuum of Care (CoC) as a region in applying for Sonoma County’s share of new State and Federal dollars associated with Permanent Supportive Housing and Affordable Housing, as well as seeking to maximize existing re-authorized sources.

Objective 3:

Create incentives for developers to promote affordable housing development in the County.

Establishing a Housing Working Group to support the County’s efforts on facilitating affordable housing in the County, and creating an objective Design and Development Standard for multifamily developments.

Healthy and Safe Communities: Goal 4 

Reduce the County’s overall homeless population by 10% each year by enhancing services through improved coordination and collaboration. 

Objective 1:

Conduct a peer review of neighboring counties, other agencies, and successful models in other states to identify best practices for preventing and reducing homelessness through various housing options and supportive service models.

Internal teams are putting together homeless and housing inventories, funding inventories, and assessing County/city collaborations for housing options and supportive service models that best meet the needs of Sonoma County’s residents.

Objective 2:

Partner with cities to build a strategic plan for homeless prevention and housing strategies by 2023.

Teams are currently working on the Homelessness Strategic Plan with city, County, and CoC representatives.

Objective 3:

Increase investment in programs that treat underlying causes of homelessness, including substance abuse, mental illness, poverty, and lack of affordable housing.

DHS will be utilizing Measure O, Project Homekey and Project Roomkey funds and other grants to expand and implement new programs that treat underlying causes of homelessness, including substance abuse, mental illness, poverty, and lack of affordable housing. Some of these major projects include expansion in the following areas: Residential Care Facilities, Crisis Stabilization Unit, Residential Crisis Services, Inpatient Hospital Services, Mental Health Services at Children’s Shelters, etc. CDC will also be leading an effort to strengthen housing location countywide.

Objective 4:

Create a housing resource tool for Safety Net departments to efficiently assist residents with accessing available housing by 2022.

DHS will work with CDC partners to create a tool that tracks in real time the county’s shelter beds and temporary & permanent housing availability in one location. Staff are in preliminary discussions with IBM to create this resource.

Objective 5:

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

The CDC staff and their partners in cities and the CoC will collaborate as a region to advance policies and planning that secure access to housing the County’s unhoused population. This collaboration currently occurs: (1) With cities via the County-City Managers committee; and (2) with cities and CBOs at the CoC board.

Healthy and Safe Communities: Goal 5 

Continue to invest in public safety so that residents and visitors feel safe in our community.

Objective 1:

Continue to invest in cultural responsiveness and de-escalation training and techniques for County law enforcement workforce.

This implementation plan focuses on adding or expanding training related to de-escalation and bias (both in content and number of hours), and increasing the use of the Sheriff’s Office Force Simulator (Virtra) machine by deputies and expand its use to Field Training Officers. It also supports the development of a de-escalation policy.

Objective 2:

Better integrate services and handoffs within the Safety Net departments.

Expand IMDT efforts through: HEART expansion/Covid Emergency Response (CERG), Behavioral Health Diversion Cohort Expansion, and Whole Person Care. Other efforts involve: IMDT data solutions and further developing and implementing data and reporting components of the ACCESS initiative.

Objective 3:

Assess and determine the most appropriate community response program to respond to individuals in the community experiencing a psychiatric emergency, including an analysis whether to expand the Mobile Support Team, and bring a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors by 2023.

The County, in collaboration with Cities, are initiating several pilots of new services and modifications to existing programs to expand and improve the availability of mobile mental health/behavioral health response services in Sonoma County.

Objective 4:

Expand detention alternatives with the goal of reducing the jail population, from pre-pandemic levels, by 15% at the end of 2022, while simultaneously reducing recidivism amongst the supervised offender population. 

Probation seeks to implement a case management system (CMS) which provides crucial capabilities missing from the current CMS. Some of these high priority additional capabilities are: adopting a Behavior Management System and a program referral tracking system.

Objective 5:

Conduct outreach and engagement campaign with communities to build and strengthen community and law enforcement relationships, including education on the difference between calling 2-1-1 and 9-1-1.

The County will conduct outreach and engagement campaigns to build and strengthen community and law enforcement relationships through a marketing campaign to promote better understanding of law enforcement, County programs and individuals dedicated to public health and safety, as well as through the launching of a County newsletter.