September 9, 2023
The contractors are working on the new bathrooms and fences and gates. We will have a grand opening as soon as they are finished. Can’t wait to show you all that we are doing.
The most successful part of the Home and Safe Village is that the program is working. The 20 clients in the Village are happy and working hard on their programs. Our focus now is to get everyone healthy and mental health evaluations. It is problematic as with only Medical it is difficult to get complicated health care, and without health insurance it is about impossible. We have one client who broke his leg 3 years ago and it is still infected and not set properly. We finally got him to a specialist who said, “without better insurance I recommend you just have it cut off.” No kidding. I have gotten him reassigned and will be visiting a new team of doctors on Monday: this time we will go with him and record what is said. He is an amazing human being and has taken on the role of “Mayor” of the Village. This self-governing really works if you just give people the chance. The tenants have asked us to do some of the Sunday dinners themselves. They are willing to use their EBT cards to buy the food that is needed. Lovely to see. Last Sunday was their first go and they served 44 people in style: with pride. Our philosophy is to have as much self-governing as possible, and it is working. Tenants are patrolling the creek area nearby to keep it clean and protect the neighborhood. They have repainted the bus stop that had been graffitied. (They thought it reflected badly on the Village). They are walking around the neighborhood and picking up trash. They are keeping the Village Clean and Safe.
We now have 4 case workers and could use more. One is working with clients who have legal issues. She goes to court and probation appointments with them, and it has helped their relationship with the Courts. We have received kudos from both probation and the court system because of this. We are also working on a relationship with legal aid to learn more about the rights and responsibilities of the homeless. We have a volunteer attorney helping a client with a civil case that has been going on for 6 months because the client did not know how to proceed.
Another of the caseworkers is spending her time doing follow up with the clients that have moved on to housing. Two of them are very ill and have been put in Permanent Supportive Housing. They still need a familiar face that they trust to help them navigate a new town, new doctors, and living in an apartment. She is also doing outreach with many of the 65 clients not in the village. They still need to get health care, EBT cards, Medical, SS, and IDs. If we can get these all done before they move in, it makes their progress so much faster.
The third caseworker is handling the walk-ins. The sad news is we are getting at least 4 a week of newly homeless clients. If that many are coming in how many more are there who have moved elsewhere? It seems that with COVID freeze on rents lifted, prices have gone up and people are not making enough to stay housed. It is statistically interesting as we do intakes and are seeing these are clean and sober people, without any criminal record, no court cases, and no chronic illnesses. I am looking forward to compiling these to prove that homelessness begins as a purely financial issue. The negative is there just not affordable housing, and many will later turn to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain of homelessness.
The fourth caseworker is also a caregiver, so her strength is to take care of the clients on property. They are the long-term homeless and all have medical issues. She keeps track of their meds, their appointments, and helps with the plans to move forward. We are now working with about 70 homeless in the Valley and for 4 caseworkers, is a reasonable caseload. I foresee more will be needed as we grow.
We are making a lot of staffing changes as we are growing both in numbers and as an organization. This has created a bit of chaos, but good chaos. We have two new people who are working to improve the structure and streamline the process. Kourtney is our new Operations Manager, taking care of the day to day, and Yohki is my streamlining genius. She is getting us programs that will make grant reporting easy, as well as scheduling and payroll. These two women are telling me to bug out and let them run things. Very good sign.
We need to get the volunteers working. That is important. Yohki was going to be my volunteer coordinator and then I had to go and hire her. She will be looking for someone to take that on. Organize the volunteers and find what they are good at and get them engaged. We desperately need volunteers to give rides to doctors’ appointments, DMV, EBT, SS, and various other things. We have one client who needs to go to a wound doctor in Santa Rosa once a week. He is a cute little old guy who isn’t ambulatory enough to take the bus and walk from the bus stop.
One of our people is working at Lucky and needs an inexpensive car. If you know of such a thing, please let me know. He hasn’t worked for a year yet but has been promoted and is doing the job well. We have counseled him to start with an inexpensive car that will last a few years until he is on his feet before he gets into making car payments.
We are still very interested in education and would be happy to speak at any event, group, or cocktail party. There are still people in Sonoma who don’t think we have a homeless problem. Call me if you can do this. 707 304-0502
We need a commercial size sink. Desperately need running water for cooking and cleaning besides the hose that we have now. Anyone remodeling has one to donate?
We always need paper products. Hygiene products, bed pads, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups. Now we have the storage shed, thanks to Shir Shalom we can store them safely.
We have gotten a matching grant for up to 100K. So far, we have about 34K that has come in to match. Please help with that. We have only two more months to raise the remaining 66K. That is only about $150 from each supporter on this newsletter.
We have gotten some lovely donations from the community, and we thank each one of you for thinking about us. It is amazing how many people are supporting and helping. If anyone would like a tour before the grand opening, please call me and I would be happy to give you a tour personally. 707 304-0502.
My kudos this month go to the tenants of the Home and Safe Village. They have even surprised me, the number one believer, by taking ownership of this program and trusting and hoping. One tenant who had been homeless for 20+ years told me for the first time he can remember, he has hope. Kinda makes it all worthwhile.
As always, we need the community to make this work. We need your heart, your belief, and your support.
Thank you, Annie.
THE HASS NEWSLETTER
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