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Close to Home: Dream Center requires more thinking

  • Jeannette Dothee, left, and Jillian Metz look through the abandoned rooms at the old Warrick Hospital while taking a tour with the Social Advocates for Youth on Aug. 28. (CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

Community Unite represents Bennett Valley residents concerned about the proposed Social Advocates for Youth facility at the former Warrack Hospital.

The facility would house up to 64 homeless adults. Community Unite is aware of the difficulties facing the homeless in Sonoma County. However, we question whether the proposed facility is appropriate for any residential neighborhood. We have grave reservations as to whether SAY can effectively execute and maintain the facility and promised services.

SAY's proposed “Dream Center” demands greater scrutiny by the public and local authorities. At the very least, SAY should provide a social economic impact assessment of the proposed facility to the Santa Rosa Planning Department and to Bennett Valley residents. SAY and its supporters have pointedly stated that the Warrack facility is for young adults aged out of the foster care system. The truth is only a small percentage (15-20 percent) of individuals who would inhabit the Warrack facility can be characterized as such. The overwhelming majority (80-85 percent by SAY's admission) are homeless adults aged 18 to 24 not aged out of foster care. Our concerns stem from government sources indicating that, unfortunately, a large percentage of homeless adults in the United States have substance abuse problems (64 to 80 percent), mental health problems (up to 60 percent) and the majority have criminal records (62.4 percent).

SAY's Warrack facility would be in the middle of a long established residential neighborhood, within walking distance of three elementary schools. Due to its proximity, many residents of Bennett Valley are very concerned about the safety and security of their children and families.

SAY uses its Tamayo Village facility as the Warrack facility's model. The past three years, there were 62 police calls ranging from sexual assault to battery at Tamayo Village. Seven Sonoma County probation officers with first-hand knowledge of Tamayo Village and the proposed facility stated in a signed letter, “The plans for this project are unsafe for our families and neighbors. SAY has shown to be incapable of safely screening and housing a 25 bed facility as indicated at Tamayo Village . . . These public safety concerns will increase exponentially with this proposed 64-bed facility including a 12-bed emergency homeless shelter, as well as the type of clientele their drop-in services will attract.”

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