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Healdsburg's Challenge

Where are the resources to help our local homeless population?

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As a 53-year resident of Healdsburg, I know that we as a community show what we value by where we put our resources.

For instance, we rightfully value tourism, which has brought many positive changes to Healdsburg over the past 37 years. We continue to spend $225,000 per year to promote Healdsburg as a "world-class small-town."

We rightfully value our parks and trails. The city is currently planning to spend $1.6 million to extend the Grove Street trail north of town, a wonderful amenity for our residents who have the health, time and energy for long walks.

But do we value all of our residents? Are those with the least resources being given their fair share of attention? Given our current revenue, the city is spending $6,906 per capita on 11,840 residents. How much of that money is being allocated to our residents with no or little income? Currently, .00085 percent.

Many Healdsburg residents, with roofs over our heads, are comfortable with our lives but unhappy with the lack of compassion and care for those who have no place to call home. For more on this, please view our three-minute video at NoPlaceToCallHome.org.

According to the most recent report from the county, 84 percent of those who are homeless lived in Sonoma County before becoming homeless. Fears that temporary legal encampment and even transitional and permanent housing, the end goal, act as a "magnet" are unfounded.

According to that same report, 64 percent of our county's homeless population report living with one or more health conditions.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that in 2017–18, of 10 California counties, Sonoma had the largest increase in its homeless population. The report revealed that 72 percent of our homeless cited lack of affordable rent as the primary obstacle in obtaining permanent housing.

A group of residents, acting on their own behalf and independent of organization, find the lack of the city's attention to our shelterless population unacceptable. And we are trying to do something about it. Won't you join us?

Gail Jonas is a resident of Healdsburg.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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