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Human Resources Department

Commission on Human Rights

For Immediate Release

Hand to Heart: Junior Commission on Human Rights announces Food and Hygiene Drive for Sonoma County’s Victims of Homelessness

Santa Rosa,CA | March 29, 2019

Article 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services”. Over seventy years later after being written, this resolution is still not fulfilled. This is particularly clear in Sonoma County, which in 2015 had a homeless population that was three times the national rate. In 2018, the Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey identified 2,996 homeless persons, almost 2,000 of which were un-sheltered. This is especially unacceptable in a county as wealthy as Sonoma County; in 2016, the value of Sonoma County’s exports were $1.19 billion. To put this into perspective, the entire state of Hawaii, with a population of nearly three times that of Sonoma County, has an export value that’s 20 percent less than Sonoma County’s. Despite Sonoma County’s apparent wealth, at least 2,996 members of our own community suffer every day in the face of our county’s homelessness crisis. 

“Homelessness is so prevalent in Sonoma County that it’s become normalized. Despite its prevalence, we need to remember that the level of people suffering from homelessness in Sonoma County is not actually normal. We need to take action,” says Junior Commissioner Rachel Harris.

Homelessness Ad Hoc Committee members Harris, June Labourdette, Logan Leddy, and Talia Schwartz are coordinating a drive for food and hygiene items to assist the homeless. “While we recognize that a drive alone will not end homelessness, it can provide substantial relief to those in need. People should not be discouraged from engaging in activism because they believe it won’t be enough. We firmly believe that any help is capable of making a difference,” says Schwartz. The items collected in the drive will be organized into brightly colored “Hand to Heart” bags designed by the committee and distributed to those in need, through homeless service providers and the public. The committee partnered with the Sonoma County Library to create drop off locations from April 8th - April 26th at the Northwest Library in Santa Rosa, the Petaluma Regional Library, and the Sebastopol Regional Library.  Donations of non-perishable food items and small, portable hygiene items are requested.

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