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Two Views on SAY Dream Center: No

  • 1/18/2014: A1: MORE STUDIES: Russell Wyatt, 57, who lives near the former Warrack Hospital site, is opposed to the SAY Dream Center’s location in a residential area. He and other members of the neighborhood group Citizens Unite want additional assessments of the project’s impacts.

    PC: Russell Wyatt, a nearby resident of the former Warrack Hospital site, is opposed to the SAY Dream Center's location in a residential area. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Social Advocates for Youth needs to be more honest about its capabilities and who it serves. The Dream Center's objective is not to serve aged-out foster system youth, which account for just 15 percent of Tamayo Village tenants. It is to serve homeless 18- to 24-year-olds from Sonoma and other counties with minimal staff and little accountability.

No goals are set for their tenants. True transitional housing directly and continuously addresses three concerns to a finite conclusion: Getting a degree, getting a living-wage job and being clean and sober. It should be staffed not with "people who care" but rather with "people who care and are trained and licensed."

SAY commits to run the Dream Center housing as it does Tamayo Village on Yulupa Avenue with a few additional background checks. Twelve Sonoma County probation officers have declared the center's 63 beds wholly inappropriate for a residential area, and its residents would be very different from what SAY describes.

The center's 63 beds is 2 1/2 times that of Tamayo's bed count. Guests are allowed, so the actual number would be higher. SAY may cap the number but is not obligated to. The public project file reveals Tamayo's client privacy policy which includes the fact that staff cannot open a client's locked door under any circumstances. According to SAY's Jan. 7 filing, tenants would be screened at admittance, but only those seeking emergency shelter would be drug tested. And there would be no exclusionary consequences.

SAY thinks Tamayo's 25 beds having 20 police calls a year for felonious and other anti-social behavior is OK. Sixty-three beds means at least one call per week. Calls to many addresses on Warrack's nearby residential streets are one in 20 years.

The city trusts SAY to perform screenings and have security at Warrack based on SAY's history and reputation. SAY's whitewashing of tenants' histories, deflecting residents' and professionals concerns, manipulating and shading information and repeated misrepresentations of plans for Warrack have many hundreds of residents not trusting SAY to deliver.

The city says the conditional use permit can be revoked if SAY doesn't meet its terms. The city didn't revoke the conditional use permit of the Catholic Charities Homeless Services Center at 600 Morgan St. with horrible conditions of vandalism, loitering and property crime and underfunded security. City officials extended the permit without expiration.

That will likely be the effect of the Dream Center. Adding insult to injury, the proposed permit's conditional term would end before the Dream Center's completely built.

The objects of this taxpayer largesse deserve better than warehousing. Whether it is Sonoma County's homeless young adults (20 percent), or the 67 percent over age 24; the 11 percent Latino, 66 percent white, 7 percent black, 14 percent the rest -#8212; according to the applied Survey Research Homeless Report of 2013 -#8212; all should have community support without negative effects to others. Every county resident deserves compassion.

The Dream Center is an outdated institutional model without enough predetermined, fixed behavioral controls. SAY has unfettered ability to rent to any number of undefined agencies.


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