Government leaders in Sonoma County, California are spending millions on two multi-unit properties with plans to evict the residents and bring in homeless folks currently living on a wooded bike trail.
— KPIX 5 (@KPIXtv) January 14, 2020
“It’s just insanity,” local Karen Sanders told KPIX. “Million dollar homes; million dollar homes for these transients living on the trail.”
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is grappling with how to deal with the county’s growing homeless population, which currently includes about 3,000 across the county, including roughly 250 at an encampment that stretches for over a mile along the Joe Rodota Trail.
Some of the homeless told the media they were given bus tickets from other parts of the state to Sonoma County, while many others are vagrants addicted to drugs or other substances. In December, county supervisors approved millions for temporary shelters to deal with the problem, which also involves a growing collection of trash and human feces along the trail, KGO reports.
On Tuesday, they approved some of their other bright ideas, which involve spending more than $2 million on two properties with a total of seven units to house the homeless.
The purchases include a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 866 Sonoma Ave. in Santa Rosa. The .41-acre parcel also includes two cottages and a large detached garage. The selling price is $1.15 million.
The second purchase is a multi-unit property containing a two-bedroom, two-bathroom remodeled cottage and a duplex with each unit containing two bedrooms and one bathroom at 8190-8194 Arthur St. in Cotati. The selling price is $980,000.
Rebecca Ennis told supervisors she received notice she was being forced out after a decade living in the back unit on the Sonoma Ave. property in October, as fires engulfed the state.
“The timing seemed odd. I mean, myself and the other tenant on the property we were given 60 days notice during the Kincade Fire. That in and of itself is really stressful,” she said.
“I just personally don’t understand why we would displace people to house people. That, like I said, it feels like robbing from Peter to pay Paul,” Ennis told KPIX.
Virtually all of the locals who showed up at the meeting to discuss the issue spoke out against the property purchases, according to the news site.
“What you’re doing doesn’t pencil out,” one woman said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
“It just seems so morally wrong on every level,” another woman agreed.
“The message is, ‘If you stop working and lay down on a trail, the county will buy you a house,’” another complained.
In December, Sonoma County supervisors approved a plan to erect emergency outdoor shelters throughout the county at a cost of $11.6 million. One of the shelters is at the county fairgrounds several miles from town, which has drawn criticism from homeless advocates who allege the distance will limit their ability to find work.
County officials are asking the homeless along the trail to voluntarily relocate, but have warned it could take months to get the new shelters and million-dollar properties ready for the new residents.
Local homeless advocates contend it’s not enough.
“That’s a long time,” Miles Sarvis-Wilburn told KGO in December. “It was sunny today, freezing last night, people are living in a drainage ditch, it’s not acceptable.”