Last week the Sonoma County Supervisors added a calendar item to the March 19 agenda that aimed to deal with housing-related fallout from the recent floods in West County. Numerous residents were left homeless in the aftermath. The agenda item called for an emergency outlay of $150,000 to assist displaced flood victims and said the county would draw the money from its 2018–19 budget for shelter programs.
The move came at a time when the county is under fire for how it's been spending homeless-health-related state grant money following the 2017 wildfires. The Press Democrat reported last week that the county had spent $4.1 million last year in Whole Person Care pilot program funds, but only $450,000 went to directly serve the homeless. An additional $3 million was spent on unspecified administrative costs, while the county housed 230 homeless persons, instead of the 1,500 promised for 2018.
The state Health and Human Services agency warned that if Sonoma didn't get its act together, it risked losing the 5-year, $25 million grant. That's the last thing anyone wants. The county's Behavioral Health division budget barely survived a planned slashing of its budget last year, and the ranks of homeless in Sonoma County, at more than 3,000, put it in the unenviable category of one of the highest homeless populations in the country.
In defending its poor showing with the grant, county officials were quick to point to the 2017 wildfires as the culprit. And things were pretty chaotic there for a minute. The county pledged to take corrective action and told The Press Democrat that they were working diligently to meet the state's demands.
More and more the county is relying on grants to deal with fiscal fallout from the fires—and to address a horrific local homeless problem that predated the fires and has only gotten worse since. Now it's using the recent flooding as a pretext to divert funds from shelter programs. It's starting to feel like late 2017 all over again.
Tom Gogola is the News and Features editor of the Bohemian and Pacific Sun. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UFCW is one of the largest private sector Unions in the whole United States ("Look for the Union . . . Edible," March 20). We are organizing in all states where cannabis is [legalized]. We must educate the cannabis owner and investors that workers do have rights to organize and demand better working conditions, to respect workers rights to say or complain without the threat of being discharged or terminated for organizing. . . . This cannabis industry has been asked to do what other employer's have been doing in the state of California—respect workers rights to join a union of free choice. UFCW local 5 has contracts with dispensaries. We had the first members in Oakland and Berkeley in 2012. We are now also looking for employers who wish to sign a labor peace agreement with UFCW Local 5.
UFCW Local 5
Organizing is great!! But union members are not allowed to use it for pain due to degenerative injuries to our bodies. It's ok to take prescription painkillers but not a natural non-life threatening plant!! Pain is no joke to us hard-working union members.
With its rolling green landscape and scenic coastline, counties don't get much more beautiful than Sonoma from a birds-eye view ("Playing Chicken," March 20). Unless, apparently, that bird is an ailing chicken amongst thousands on a farm, in which case it suddenly becomes a pretty scary place where no government body takes responsibility for upholding the laws meant to protect you.
Do the Time
If you are concerned about what deleterious effects your incarceration will have on your kids, don't commit a crime ("Lost Time," March 19). Problem solved.
How come it's OK to release an illegal alien criminal with a kid, but not OK to release an American with a kid?
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