Sonoma County has shelved plans to buy a five-bedroom home in the Guerneville area that would house up to 10 people who are homeless, county officials announced Friday.
The Board of Supervisors was set to consider at its meeting Tuesday a proposal from the county’s Community Development Commission to loan $950,000 to the nonprofit West County Community Services, which would buy the house on Old Cazadero Road and make some necessary repairs before housing people there.
But the plans fell through after the results of a property appraisal received Thursday did not support either “the proposed purchase price or the intended loan amount,” the Community Development Commission said in a statement. As a result, the commission called off the planned discussion with supervisors.
“The CDC and County of Sonoma remain committed to our residents experiencing homelessness, and will continue to pursue opportunities to expand permanent supportive housing throughout the county,” the commission’s statement said.
The proposal for the five-bedroom house was in line with the county’s “housing first” model, a strategy that contends homeless people can best address underlying issues such as substance abuse once they are first provided a stable roof over their heads, rather than having to “earn” their spot in housing.
Yet the latest plan was strongly opposed by at least some local residents, many of whom have rallied against previous efforts to address the homeless problem. They have voiced deep skepticism about the county’s approach toward alleviating what is widely viewed as a homelessness crisis along the lower Russian River.
Sonoma County’s most recent homeless census indicated a 20 percent year-over-year increase in the number of people who were experiencing homelessness in the area, which includes the lower Russian River, at the time of the count in January. But the community remains sharply divided over how to solve the problem.
Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who represents the area, had expressed support for the house proposal in a lengthy public Facebook post Thursday.
“I fully acknowledge the fact that Guerneville has a disproportionate number of homeless residents compared to other communities. However, we are not going to take 200 homeless residents in the Russian River and ask them to move to Santa Rosa,” Hopkins wrote. “I oppose the idea of shifting Santa Rosa’s homeless population to the Russian River ... But it isn’t right to do the opposite, either. Local challenges demand local solutions.”
You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.