One of the most exciting opportunities to come along last year was The Palms Inn conversion. This project involves a public/private partnership including a local businessman, the County and Catholic Charities, among others, all working together to provide housing to some of our most vulnerable community members. The Palms Inn owner, Akash Kalia, has committed to turning his hotel into Single Room Occupancy (SRO) permanent supportive housing. The project will provide 104 residential units to homeless individuals, including 60 veterans, in a short time frame.
From the moment I took office in 2009, and even before, I have been dedicated to providing supportive services to the County’s most vulnerable residents. By helping under-resourced community members with housing and support I expect we will save tax payers many thousands of dollars each year. Research tells us that by providing for basic needs we can reduce the need for emergency rooms, incarceration and other high-cost treatment facilities.
Catholic Charities will manage The Palms project and should begin placements this winter. I am pleased to have led the Board of Supervisors to allocate a $260,000 contribution to cover operational costs for the first six months. With our shelters at capacity it is essential to move this project forward quickly as people sleeping outside this winter are at greater risk of developing potentially life-threatening illnesses.
Over the last two years the Board of Supervisors has approved several initiatives and allocated significant resources to mitigate the social and economic impacts of homelessness in Sonoma County. Key among them is the adoption of the “Housing First” model and the launch of the Homeless Outreach and Services Team (HOST) program. The HOST program has been very successful in engaging the most vulnerable homeless people and connecting them to appropriate services. Despite the availability of housing vouchers for many of these clients, the tight rental market has prevented too many of these individuals from being housed.
Catholic Charities will be responsible for providing 24/7 support and oversight at The Palms, including ongoing case management services for its 44 units, while the Veterans Administration will be responsible for case management services for veterans. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to our project partners for stepping up to be a part of the solution to the housing crisis