The rain fell hard that day. The tent he'd pitched in Howarth Park had leaked and Gerri Jackson's bed of piled blankets was wet. His Santa Rosa Junior College math textbook was damp.
And he'd just gotten word from a campmate that someone was going to kick them out in 10 days.
"Where'm I gonna go, go, go, bro -#8212; I don't know, I never know," he said.
The 22-year-old's singsong voice was just another sound in the night on a muddy hillside tangled with brush and trees, where Gerri was living with the skunks and deer.
It was better than the pavement outside Chop's Teen Center, where he'd been sleeping days before.
"Concrete sucks the life out of you," said Gerri, a Chicago native homeless on the streets of Santa Rosa since early 2011.
Adrift and often unknown amid the plenty of Sonoma County, homeless young people reel from abandonment or rejection, flee abuse or broken homes, exit the foster care system unmoored at 18.
They wander, their conditions anonymous, through shopping malls, parks and city centers, ride buses, scrounge free food, cigarettes and, often, drugs. They search for the next safe place to sleep.
Gerri is one of more than a thousand young people under age 24 who are the fastest growing segment of the county's estimated 4,280 homeless residents. This year's count revealed 277 teens between the ages 12 and 17 who have nowhere to live -#8212; a 200 percent increase in four years.
"They are terrifying statistics," said Georgia Berland, executive officer of the Sonoma County Task Force on the Homeless.
"What does it mean to their stability, to their ability to engage in society, to be productive?" she said. "If kids are going to be growing up feeling that their community doesn't even care enough for them to have a roof over their head, that means they're not going to feel connected to their community. That doesn't bode well for us."
More housing, education, job training and employment options, and counseling services are crucial to reversing the situation, Berland said.
"We have to find some way to reconnect with these kids and find a way to help them feel valuable and cared for," she said. "That is the most important thing we can do."
The young people who come to live on Sonoma's streets have had tangled lives and tell their stories mostly in tangents.
Gerri was in Chicago's foster care system from age 5 or 6 until 18. He joined the Paragon Marketing Group, which recruits young people as salespeople, as a way to start a new life, and sold subscriptions across the country. He can still recite the sales pitch.
"I learned so much in that job," he said.
But after he arrived in Santa Rosa, the Paragon van left town without him, taking with it his identification. He spent 100 days in jail for taking someone's car to sleep in. Although he's avoided other serious legal trouble, it's been the streets for him ever since.
"You learn so much out here. All my senses are so good," he said.
But just an hour later, in Juilliard Park, Gerri, who can at times seem dreamy, said, "The longer you're in this, the harder it gets."