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Sonoma County requesting 10 trailers from California to house homeless residents

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For more stories on Sonoma County's homeless crisis, go here.

Sonoma County officials last week requested 10 trailers from the state of California to help house people cleared from the Joe Rodota Trail homeless encampment in west Santa Rosa.

But the county’s request came just two days before the trail was forcibly closed and nearly two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Jan. 14 the availability of up to 100 trailers for cities and counties battling to address the statewide homelessness crisis.

In the county’s Jan. 27 request, officials touted their proposal as an integral supplement to the suite of short- and long-term shelter measures approved Dec. 23 by the Board of Supervisors at a cost of $11.63  million.

“To this end, the county is requesting 10 trailers to be used as transitional sheltering and transitional housing accommodations for JRT occupants as part of the more long-term indoor-outdoor shelters are being developed,” the county told the state in its letter, using an acronym for the Joe Rodota Trail.

The proposal came amid the county’s rush last week to set up and populate a 60-person, $2 million temporary shelter at the Los Guilicos campus off Highway 12 in Santa Rosa. All of those units are said to be occupied, with a larger number of former trail occupants — at least 100 people of the 250 campers, according to observers — displaced to other corners of the city or county without shelter or services.

By the time Sonoma County applied for the trailers, 45 had already been spoken for, with Oakland being awarded 15 trailers Jan. 16 and 30 more heading to Los Angeles County by Jan. 24.

“Even though it might have taken us some time, it doesn’t mean we weren’t considering it and getting our stuff ready,” said Rohish Lal, a spokesman in the county’s Department of Health Services.

Barbie Robinson, the county health director and lead official on homelessness, declined to be interviewed Tuesday.

Alicia Sutton, the state’s deputy secretary of homelessness, said via email that the state is engaged in conversations with “a number of interested communities, including Sonoma.”

“We will be making decisions on a rolling basis,” Sutton said in the email. “We’re eager to get them out into communities quickly.”

Supervisor James Gore on Monday reached out to the governor’s office to follow up on the county’s request and laud local efforts to combat homelessness, saying the county has appropriated significant dollars, opened its emergency operations center and “dove into the maelstrom.”

“It’s rare to encounter an issue with such emotionally charged, unwavering opinions,” Gore wrote, offering praise of the governor’s leadership and promising to work “hand in glove” with the state moving forward.

Gore also invited Newsom and his aides to visit Sonoma County or meet in Sacramento, and then shared a photo and information about the Los Guilicos Village, the temporary homeless shelter opposite Oakmont.

County officials, before closing that 90-day shelter, said they hope to create two more permanent indoor-outdoor shelters, each serving up to 40 people and possibly establish a parking site for those wishing to stay overnight in their vehicles.

The county has set aside $2.8 million from its general fund to pay for those facilities.

For more stories on Sonoma County's homeless crisis, go here.

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