Santa Rosa’s Homeless State of Emergency
Last night, the Santa Rosa City Council voted unanimously to draft a Homeless State of Emergency, with Vice Mayor Tom Schwedhelm suggesting that the emergency will only truly end when Santa Rosa’s homeless numbers reach functional zero and all people have access to shelter and housing within a short time of becoming homeless.
SAY staff and youth spoke at the City Council, urging our council members to keep homeless youth at the forefront of their decisions. Homeless youth make up 20% of the overall homeless population here. And with 678 homeless youth in Sonoma County we have more youth homeless here than in the City of Chicago, or the entire county of San Diego.
Michael, 24 spoke at the meeting and talked about how his life has changed after finding housing “I came to SAY for a job after hearing about their summer program. They gave me a job knowing I was homeless and couldn’t take showers so I could have a start. From this opportunity, they worked with me to get into their short-term living. I now can say I’m working and no longer homeless. I can do things for myself now and it feels good. Now, when I go into downtown where I was homeless, I can actually feel people judging me less because they no longer see me with a huge backpack walking back and forth to sleep, eat and sit at a park all day. They see me doing things for myself and it has helped my self-confidence in so many ways. I haven’t felt so good about myself in a long time.”
You can watch the video below to see SAY’s speakers – Caitlin Childs, Michael Sweeden, Cat Cvengros and Gerard Guidice – asking the city council to keep our young people in mind as they cast their votes.