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Department of Health Services

Behavioral Health Division

Local Mental Health, Addiction and Homeless Services in Sonoma County

Providing Mental Health Services to Children, Seniors, Veterans and those Experiencing Homelessness – Measure "O"

Published: August 13, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

What challenges currently face Sonoma County?

Sonoma County strives to provide outstanding services to children, veterans, seniors and other adults, those experiencing homelessness and those needing mental health and addiction treatment, yet many still need access to these critical services.

Lack of Services

The lack of necessary mental health resources and substance abuse services has overwhelmed law enforcement and first responders who are left to handle mental health and substance abuse emergencies. Suicide and mental health conditions have become a growing epidemic across the country and right here at home. The current COVID-19 pandemic has added additional strain to our community, negatively impacting mental health and creating new barriers for those seeking treatment. Many in Sonoma County are experiencing homelessness or are still healing from the trauma caused by wildfires. In fact, 60% of households are impacted by a mental health condition here in our county. In addition, opioid use and drug overdoses are serious problems in our community.

In recent years, the need for services for those experiencing homelessness has increased. Many of those experiencing homelessness are suffering from mental illness or substance use disorders. Adequate treatment, facilities and supportive housing are needed to serve this population. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted those experiencing homelessness and has underscored the importance of having access to health care and a safe place to live.

Cost of Services Outpacing State and Federal Funding Budget Cuts

At the same time that more and more residents need treatment, budget shortfalls have forced drastic reductions to services in our county. Lack of Federal and State funding has resulted in cuts to essential programs, such as early intervention programs serving children at schools and reductions in the number of beds available at facilities to serve those in a crisis. Unless additional funding is secured, our services face significant cuts. Additional funding is needed to ensure that those who need it most—children, veterans, seniors, those experiencing homelessness and people facing trauma or drug addiction—have access to the essential care they need.

How does the County plan to address these challenges?

To expand services and to prevent additional service reductions and ensure local residents have access to mental health treatment and substance abuse services, voters in our County will have an opportunity to consider whether to vote for 1/4 cent sales tax measure this November. Recent polling indicates that 70% of Sonoma County likely voters are supportive of a measure to address mental health and homelessness services.

How would funds from the measure be used?

If approved by at least 66.7% of local voters, the measure could generate approximately $25 million annually to provide:

  • Services for children, veterans and seniors
  • Emergency psychiatric care
  • Mental health and addiction facilities
  • Services for those experiencing homelessness
  • Behavioral and mental health crisis assessment
  • Suicide prevention
  • Permanent Supportive Housing

What types of accountability are required?

  • Every penny from the measure would benefit Sonoma County
  • No funds could be taken away by the State or go to other communities
  • Independent citizens’ oversight and annual audits are required

How much would the measure generate?

The measure would generate approximately $25 million each year for 10 years.

How much support does the measure need to pass?

This measure would pass if 66.7% of voters decide to vote for it.

Who is eligible to vote on the measure?

All registered voters in Sonoma County are eligible to vote on the measure. To check your registration status or register to vote, please visit

When does the measure appear on the ballot?

The measure will be on the November 3, 2020 ballot.

Who can I reach out to with questions?

To ask questions or for more information, please contact Leah Benz at (707) 565-6614. For more information about the County’s Health Services Department, visit

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