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Sonoma supervisors asked to spare camp

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Residents of a homeless encampment in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa and their advocates implored the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Wednesday not to clear their encampment as scheduled on Thursday.

The residents and advocates pitched two tents on the concrete outside the county’s Administration Center before the supervisors meeting started Wednesday.

Then more than a dozen, some angry, some near tears, accused the board of breaking a promise in December not to clear the camp behind the Dollar Store in the Roseland Village Shopping Center on Sebastopol Road until alternate housing and access to social services were found for them.

The two camps have been home for about two years to more than 100 people, including many who were rousted by other camp clearances. The county’s Community Development Commission wants to clear the land, which it owns, and begin site cleanup for the development of a 175 apartments that are to include some affordable units.

The Community Development Commission set up a navigation center near the camp on Feb. 23 to assess the campers’ needs and provide referrals and information about safe housing options that include temporary and permanent housing and access to health and human services.

The camp was to be vacated by March 23 but the date was extended to April 9. Housing advocates’ attorneys challenged the eviction and a federal district court judge suggested a three-week delay. The Community Development Commission then set April 19 as the final date to vacate the camp.

Some speakers this morning said Santa Rosa police were traumatizing the camp residents and issuing citations, and others said the encampment was their home.

One camp resident said a survey of 50 campers found 82 percent were disabled and 25 percent of them were on social security disability. Fifty-eight percent of the campers are women.

One woman said:

“You promised us a transitional village and nothing happened … Shelter beds are not a solution. Please do something.”

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