Home and Safe Village Newsletter January 2024
Welcome to the new year! May we double the successes from this year. To date we have moved into permanent housing for 34 people.
This has happened not without challenges. We have had to hire two additional caseworkers to keep services going for clients who have moved into housing. Many were long time on the streets and have had minimum services. We housed 15 at Siesta Way the new senior housing project that opened. When I heard they were taking applications I asked all caseworkers to go through the files and anyone over 62 with a minimum income to help them apply. It was a big process as they had to have their paperwork in order and to fill out the applications and to pay the application fee of $125. We went with them to apply and helped answer questions and confirmed that we would continue to work with them if accepted.
Wonderful when we started getting acceptances. Now we needed to find furniture: thank you NextDoor! The response has been fabulous. We have been able to furnish these apartments with the minimum to be comfortable and the caseworker continues to bring lists which we post. Great community effort. Some of these people have been without a home for as much as 20 years. Thank you, Sonoma, and thank you Siesta Way!!
We have moved 6 from the Home and Safe Village. We have agreed to follow up with services. Some of the clients in the village are handicapped and needed to be moved into permanent supportive housing, which we found using the County Coordinated Entry process. These people are not only getting casework but medical care as well.
Our biggest challenge to date was we had to exit a client from the village. We had been working with this person for a year. He was in therapy twice a week and had just completed an anger management class. This is great progress but can create triggers. He got up at 4 AM and went to the office and hit the staff. He had never in his life been physically violent and it took everyone by surprise, but, once it happens it is no longer acceptable for him to remain in the Village. Quite a problem as we have a written policy that says to exit someone it requires board approval. Not able to contact the entire board quickly, we were left with two choices. 1. Call the police and have him taken away forcefully. 2. Find a place for him to go which is safer for all and he can continue moving forward. My new C00 agreed to do both. We contacted the board to ask for clearance, hired staff to guard the client, notified the police that we had this issue and to standby, and searched for an alternative placement. We were on it for two days and got him placed in a better place, avoided having him arrested, and can continue moving him forward. Win, win, win (except a change in policy needs to be updated) I apologize for not following protocol and will have to correct but is was potentially not safe for anyone to wait for board approval. Learning experience for sure.
Christmas was lovely. Sabina Cesar provided pajamas for all the tenants which were much appreciated, and The Kenwood Rotary gave gift cards. Carol Latimer brought Christmas cookies to decorate, and the American Legion and the Congregational Church led us all with Christmas Caroles with Hot Chocolate and Cider. Wow, it was such a real Christmas for me. We had such fun, and the clients wear their pajamas down for breakfast.
My biggest sadness is that we are getting about 4 a week newly homeless people coming in asking for help. They have jobs, they have never been to jail, they are clean and sober. I wonder how long that will last if they must stay on the streets for a year? We need a housing navigation program to help before they lose their housing. It would be a lot cheaper to subsidize rents combined with financial counseling than for them to lose everything and must start from rock bottom. Maybe the new navigation centers in the County when open will provide this service?
I have been working long and hard trying to get our finances in the proper format. When you go from grassroots with no facility to a facility that takes grants the bookkeeping changes. Our treasurer on the board did his two years and resigned to move forward so I am looking for a treasurer. I am also looking for someone who knows how to process grants once we get them. It is harder than the grant applications to get the grants. So, if you have such talent and are willing to share, I could sure use the help! I am also looking for board members. As we grow the board needs to grow. If you have an interest, please contact me.
Also looking for a creative person to help me with something like MacDonalds has that says, “so many burgers sold to date.” I would like to have signage that can say Number to permanent housing and be able to change the numbers? Ideas?
We need toilet paper, paper plates, disposable silverware, paper towels, paper cups, coffee. Always need.
The Haven will close their shower and laundry service at the end of the month, and we will be taking it over. We will need bath towels, shampoo, soap, conditioner, laundry detergent, fabric softener, laundry baskets, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
We are still furnishing the apartments of the 34 housed and need furnishing, twin beds, and yes, twin bed mattresses, and housewares. Carol McLain has gotten us a storage unit for 6 months, so we even have a place to store a few of these things. Thank you, Carol! We put on Nextdoor when we are looking for something in particular. Many thanks to all the Nextdoor participants. We have yet to not get what we need!!
I am loving that we are getting a lot of donations of food and clothing as well. Yeah, to Whole Foods and the people who bring it over!!!! To everyone who brought Christmas Party leftovers, Yeah!! Also, yes to Christmas cookies.!
The construction is finished inside the fence except for the landscaping. What a relief. Now we can plan the herb garden and flower garden which the tenants want to raise and sell. The only construction left is to finish up the connections on the street for sewage and water. Can’t wait for that to be all finished (especially the cost factor!!) As you know we are WAY overbudget on the construction costs and we have had to borrow money to pay for it. The interest payments are daunting (almost 8K a month just in interest.) If you win a big lottery, can you pay off my construction debt????
The generosity of the community is keeping me afloat. Every month I get nervous as to whether I can make payroll and every month somehow, we do. I know that this can be successful only with community support. We have ended homeless by 17% already in the Sonoma Valley as I estimate approximately 200 homeless individuals and we have so far housed 34 in 6 months. At that rate we should be done in 3 years. Oh vey, I need to figure out how to accelerate that schedule. (Yes, I know that is really wishful thinking, but my theme has been from the start: “When pigs fly!”)
There are many people stopping in for a tour and talk. So happy to see the interest now we have the Grand Opening sign up. Please feel free to stop by and on Sunday night we will still have the community dinner. All are welcome and if there are too many people, remember Domino’s Delivers!!
May this be a glorious New Year for all. I know it is heartwarming to visit 34 people in their new homes and see them smile!!
Once again, heartful thanks to all,
Home and Safe Village firstname.lastname@example.org 707 304-0502 hassonona.org
THE HASS NEWSLETTER
Check in for updates regularly