May 2022 Homeless Action Sonoma Newsletter
● County Requirements Huge Cost Increases: If there is a time we could use a financial boost it is now. We were ready to erect our small home village in January. We had raised the project’s $800K cost from Grants and the Community. We were in the permitting process when things changed. The County would not let us on the property without doing the entire grading of the property for both the temporary village and the permanent facility we were planning to build in the future. This triggered Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) requirements, which means we had to grade for the 100 year flood. Now it gets complicated. To get a grading permit for BASSMA you need to have design, engineering, and architectural plans complete for the permanent facility as well as the temporary. We hired a dozen experts and went to work. We are working with the water company, PG&E, Caltrans, Sewage, and the fire department in order to install the infrastructure needed when grading the property. We now need to build retaining walls, bioswale, fire hydrants, change the size of the water pipes and install a holding tank for sewage for an overflow in case of flooding. It is daunting, interesting, and very expensive. Our $800K project has gone to a $2.5 million dollar project.
These expenses were in our long term budget but not anticipated until we started the permanent facility. We have completed and submitted our grant request to HomeKey (State Grant). The grant request does include the above cost, but we don’t expect to hear if we will be awarded the grant until something in July. In the meantime we have spent most of the money we had acquired for the temporary shelter and are scraping by with daily donations.
● On a Positive Note: While all this is going on, we are still doing amazing operations work. We are seeing hope and trust in the homeless community due to our programs. With Community Support the homeless are building relationships and learning how to help themselves out of homelessness. Just one example that I am very proud of is that we have an unprecedented number of long term drug and alcohol abusers asking for rehab. I believe they have found hope. Another lovely indication is that a team of homeless people volunteered to clear the property for us. They worked for a week cutting trees and clearing brush, digging out trash, and hauling it all to the dump. Altogether they took 12 full trucks to the dump. They believe together we can succeed and want to help! We saved about $75K by having the homeless community do the work versus hiring a contractor.
● Making a Difference: We have 3 caseworkers on staff serving 52 members of the Sonoma City Area homeless community. That is a fourth of the total number, now on the road to success. Think what we could do with a facility, proper staff, and a fully funded operations budget. We are working in collaboration with many of the Sonoma Valley Nonprofits.
● Working Together : We have joined with 14 other Nonprofits to receive a County Grant to address mental health. We are in discussion with the City of Sonoma to receive funding from them. We received a unanimous vote of support from the Sonoma Valley Community Advisory Commission. We have held 3 neighborhood informational meetings and have received amazing support. The Springs is a very generous and compassionate community. Thank you.
● Fund Raising : I have attached our projected spending through November and as you can see we have quite a large deficit. I am wide open to any fundraising suggestions. Below are some ideas I have. If you can act on any of these items or are just willing to help with fundraising please contact Valli Viera at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 707 304-0502.
Wineries could commit the proceeds of one or more days of wine tasting to our project.
Hold one or more neighborhood yard sales with HAS as the beneficiary.
Everyone receiving this newsletter could send our Go Fund Me information (https://gofund.me/dd17f501) to all your friends and family telling them you support this mission. If everyone on this list brings in 100$ that is $30,000. Wow.
In Closing: Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. has a 4 pillar approach: Educate, Innovate, Integrate, Create. We have proven the first pillars essential and successful. Now we are anxious to Create a transitional facility to “end homelessness in the Sonoma City Area, make the movie, and franchise the concept.” We have a filmmaker interested, and we have two sites interested in the concept already!
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
The Below projected balance sheet for the next eight months is attached to give a clear picture of what we are facing.
Volunteer of the month is Doug Loskot who edits and makes this newsletter attractive. He also is my tech support when I have computer issues: even when on vacation in Hawaii. Thanks Doug!!
April 2022 Homeless Action Sonoma Newsletter
· Phase I Project Scope Expanded: With the county grant money had come lots of new requirements. We had planned to do a phased approach with phase 1 being clearing and leveling part of the property and put up the small houses. Then Phase II grading the rest of the property and building the permanent building. The County is requiring us to do an entire BASSMA grading for the entire project. This involved hiring many professionals: architects, structural engineers, water engineers, fire engineers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, an expeditor, a project manager, a contractor, a dry utilities engineer, a designer, and more. We have done all that and have submitted all required requests for permits. We are waiting for the county to issue the permits so we can actually start doing the work. The County has assured us we are on a fast track for review. The county requirements have caused Phase I to go from a $800K project to a $3M project.
· The Good News: We are presently working with 52 of the Sonoma City Area homeless. We have three caseworkers doing really good work. We have 4 clients in rehab or in the process of getting rehab, we have 3 more with dentist appointments, we have housed another 3. Sunday dinners have increased to about 50 meals and friendships are being made. A client needing chemo and radiation treatments is staying with his friend and we have arranged rides for him for his treatments. To save money a crew of homeless volunteers are clearing the property for us. Crew members told me, “it feels good to be part of the process.” Sonoma Optometry has taken their first pro bono client.
· Faces of Homeless Event: We had a very successful event, FACES of HOMELESS, at the Sonoma Community Center in collaboration with SOS, Human Rights Org, Homeless Action!, and SAVS. If you missed it stay tuned as it will be coming out on YouTube!!
· Food Distribution: In collaboration with Whole Foods we get food on Fridays and distribute to the homeless to get through the weekend. We get food from the Redwood Empire Food Bank on Mondays to distribute to the marginally housed on Mondays.
· Building Community: We have submitted for an ARPA grant in collaboration with SVCHC, Hanna Boys Center, The Girls and Boys Club, SOS, Pets Lifeline, School District, La Luz, SCC, and Center 4 Wellbeing. We have been forming relationships with all the nonprofits. We are in talks with the SVJC trades program to get our clients into the trades programs there. We presently have MOU’s with Homes4theHomeless, SAVS, Pets Lifeline, and working on more. We are doing a phone give away this week in collaboration with SOS. We are building community.
· Moving Forward: We will have a Community Question and Answer event at La Luz on April 24th. On April 27th we will be presenting to the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC). Mary Courtney who is putting on the Showcase House Project has named us one of the recipients of that fundraiser. As soon as we are on property we have arranged for classes in our tent for AA, NA, Homeless Court, Job Readiness, Grief Counseling, Yoga, Risk Reduction, Financial Training, Medical Consultations, and will continue to ask clients what else they would like. The village “Home and Safe” will run as a community with 2 site managers, and 3 case workers on staff so someone will always be on property to help.
· Documenting The Journey: We have recently been contacted by a filmmaker Nico Chavez with OMA Creative, an Oakland-based production company who is interested in our story!
How Can You Help?
More Friends: Come to Sunday dinner and make friends and dine with us. Or volunteer to take a Sunday and cook!! If you would like to volunteer to cook please Contact Ted Nordquist at email@example.com.
Volunteers: We have a need for many different types of volunteers such as fundraising, distributing brochures, recruiting Sonoma Professions to dedicate some of their time, someone to represent us at the COC meetings, and many more opportunities. If you would like to volunteer to help contact Valli Viere at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donated Stuff: We need condoms, tampons, men’s athletic shoes (size 9, 10, 11). We need 22 pillow protective covers. We need 20 of the colorful plastic Adirondack chairs for outside the shelters.
Rides: We need volunteers to take clients to appointments. Greg has at least 2 more weeks of chemo and radiation. Others need rides as well for dentists, doctors, EBT cards, ID’s. Contact Valli Viere at email@example.com if you can provide a ride to one of our clients.
Support our Neighbor: Please stop by Baker and Cook and have coffee and breakfast and lunch. They have been great neighbors and with construction upon them it will be trying times for their lovely patio space. Let them know we sent you.
Money: This project has gone from a $800K project to a $3 million dollar project with the need to do all the grading and utilities for the permanent site before we can install the temporary village. All good in the end, as this was money that we would have had to spend for the permanent structure, but crunch time right now. We have a Go Fund Me campaign going on: Please send to your Facebook or mailing list this link Gofund.me/a5a910ba. Or of course you can donate directly to Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. P.O. Box 482, Sonoma, Ca. 95476.
Volunteer of the Month: Our volunteer of the month is Rabbi Steve Finley. He has been coming by on Sundays to chat and make friends. Last week he became the dishwasher. Thank you Rabbi Steve!!!
The Director’s Thoughts: It has been a daunting month for us in some ways and in the operations area we have excelled. The short of it is we have finally gotten all the permits needed into the County. There were many roadblocks to overcome, some created by my naivety and others by not having the right team on board from the get go. I feel really bad as I had promised shelter by January, and couldn’t wrap my head around why it was so difficult. I went to visit the Sebastopol project that is up and running and was amazed. They are presently sheltering 28 individuals happily, without city water, electricity, sprinklers, fire hydrants, plumbed bathrooms, showers, grading, or ADA compliance. The cost was less than our original proposal so I learned it can be done and I was not so far off mark. Why can it be done in Sebastopol and not in Sonoma? We are dealing with the Sonoma City Area with the County as our entity and the rules are different. Pending any more unforeseen issues we are hopeful. I refuse to set a date AGAIN as I have been wrong so many months in the past.
We are making a difference: One of our, now working homeless, offered $5K to help out, now that he has a good job. We have trust and are building a team and more importantly building one community. It is not easy. We have had 4 deaths in the last 6 months in the homeless community. Fentanyl is prevalent in everything and killing people. We did a risk reduction class and now have Narcan and fentanyl test strips to help save lives. Think how much better we could do with a facility!
In Closing: Thanks to our loyal supporters, volunteers, professionals who have signed up, donors, and to the homeless who have given us their trust. We can’t do this without all of you. Thank you for your continued support, together we can truly do this.
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
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