Hidden away

Hidden Away - Homeless residents in Sonoma County have several spots where guides knew to look during the 2019 homeless count. (Photo archives)

With a waiver from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the county will not conduct the full 2021 Sonoma County Point-in-Time Count of homeless residents this year, according to the Ending Homelessness program manager for the county’s Community Development Commission (CDC).

Michael Gause said in a Jan. 20 email that HUD granted the county permission to skim over the annual census of unsheltered individuals over COVID-19 and safety concerns.

“Pretty much all Bay Area counties have elected not to conduct the count as well,” Gause said.

The fact that Sonoma County conducted the census in 2020 worked in the county’s favor for a waiver and the cancellation will not impact HUD funding, he said.

HUD requires the point-in-time tally for the county to qualify for HUD funding for local homelessness services and prevention work.

The county’s webpage on homeless services stated the census is mandated “in the last 10 days of January in alternate (odd-numbered) years,” though the county’s homelessness services agencies and partners have conducted the census every year since the local count began in 2015.

For last year’s count, delayed to Feb. 28, community volunteers were invited to canvass the county’s unsheltered population with formerly homeless paid guides from 5 a.m. that morning until 9 a.m. the next day, the homeless services webpage said.

The census is directed by the Continuum of Care in collaboration with Santa Rosa, Petaluma, the CDC and others.

Gause, also positioned as the Continuum of Care Coordinator, said he would need his supervisor’s clearance for a full interview.


This is a developing story, please check back for new information.

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