Learn more about Reach for Home and our new identity. Ending homelessness in Sonoma County. Homeless Volunteer, Shower Services, Food Services, Mental Health, Auctions
Learn more about our organization, homelessness in Sonoma County, and our new name and identity below.
What is the definition of homelessness?
A person identified as homeless is someone who lacks a regular nighttime residence, or someone living in a place not designated for human habitation, such as a car, garage, or street encampment. View the official definition by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
How many people are homeless nationally, in California, and in Sonoma County?
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in January 2016, 549,928 people were homeless on a given night in the United States.
- Of that number, 194,716 were people in families and 355,212 were individuals.
- On that same night, there were 35,686 unaccompanied homeless youth, roughly seven percent of the total homeless population.
- 77,486 (or one in five) were considered "chronically homeless” individuals.
- On that same night, 39,471 veterans were homeless.
- The January 2015 federal Point-in-Time count found that homelessness in California increased 1.6 percent from 2014–2015, making it one of only 17 states to see an increase in the number of men, women and children experiencing homelessness.
- Statewide 115,738 Californians were counted as homeless.
- Of those counted, 73,699 people were unsheltered — by far the largest such population in the nation.
- This marks a disturbing reversal of the 2007–2015 trend, which had seen a 16.7 percent drop in the state’s homeless population. See Western City for the full article.
The 2016 Sonoma County Homeless Census & Survey found 2,906 homeless people in the county, which is more than three times the national rate.
Do some homeless people have jobs?
Many of the parents in homeless families served by Reach for Home are employed, but in low-paying jobs that don’t provide enough income to cover the high cost of housing. Living paycheck to paycheck, one emergency can lead to a financial crisis resulting in homelessness.
Why are people homeless?
The most common causes of homelessness are loss of job or income, family breakup, and—most significantly—the lack of affordable housing. The cost of living in Sonoma County causes many people earning minimum wage to live on the edge of homelessness.
- Overall cost of living is 24% above the national average
- Average cost of living is 15% above the national average
- Housing is 59% above the national average
Are all homeless shelters big, over-crowded rooms filled with cots?
No. The Reach for Home Family Transitional Housing sites are equipped with modern and bright apartments in residential buildings. These apartments provide families with the dignity and warmth of a real home.
Is homelessness a problem that can be solved?
Yes, with a programmatic approach the homeless can return to stable living environments. As reported by the Press Democrat, Jennielynn Holmes, Catholic Charities director of shelter & housing in Santa Rosa, states that a redoubled push to quickly house those needing basic assistance, including rent subsidies, appears to be paying off. The housing retention rate among residents who have participated in transitional housing programs so far is about 94 percent.
Does Reach for Home collaborate with other service providers?
Yes, Reach for Home is grateful for the support and resources from
- Alliance Medical Center
- Alexander Valley Healthcare
- City of Healdsburg
- Committee on the Shelterless (COTS)
- Corazon Healdsburg
- Farm to Pantry
- Healdsburg Police Department
- Rotary International
- St. Joseph Health System
- St. Paul’s Church
- Sonoma County
How can I help Reach for Home?
- Donate via the Reach for Home website
- Partner by providing corporate funds, in-kind services and expertise
- Volunteer with your family, team, work group to help with:
- Art classes
- Client logistics driver
- Corporate and private sponsorship recruitment
- Donation drive managers
- Emergency supply collection
- Event management
- Food and meal distribution
- Volunteer coordinator
- Social media contributor
- Website content contributor
Is it really possible for an individual to make a difference in solving homelessness?
Reach for Home programs are working to end homelessness thanks to strong community involvement, which demonstrates to family and individual clients that North Sonoma County supports them as they rebuild their lives.
Individual donations, partnerships, and volunteer efforts really do make a difference by providing our clients with the support they need to overcome homelessness.
Why did Reach for Home rebrand?
As the entity formerly known as North Sonoma County Services, it was difficult to raise donations and communicate clearly our role in the community.
- In early 2017 we received a private grant to conduct stakeholder research with the goal of informing our public-facing strategy and making a bold marketing move.
- The results showed that although our team is perceived as dedicated and effective, we are challenged by a tendency in the community to deny the existence of the homeless problem, along with confusion about our name, and a lack of awareness about what we do.
- This limited our ability to raise funds and carry out our programs.
- The new name, tagline, logo, and website are designed to more effectively convey the Reach for Home mission to partner with north Sonoma County community and service organizations and help people in the area who are struggling with, or are at risk of, losing housing.
How much did rebranding cost and who paid for it?
The re-branding project was sponsored by a grant from Graybird Foundation of Burlingame, CA. The in-kind services and development of branded materials and website, www.reachforhome.org, are valued at approximately $150,000.
What is the story behind the Reach for Home name?
Graybird Foundation believes in a research-based approach to ascertaining perceptions about its nonprofit clients. Even with small, non-statistically valid samples, definite trends emerge about strengths, weaknesses and aspirations.
- Reach for Home Stakeholder survey respondents were was asked what ideas should be taken into consideration when generating a new name for NSCS. The results were that the new name should make the function of the organization clear, and should highlight the clients’ positive potential rather than the perceived hopelessness of homelessness.
- Reach for Home is also action-oriented and suggests that the clients are the drivers for lasting change, and put in the effort required of the program to achieve positive outcomes.
- The tagline “Housing for people. Skills for Life.” also clarifies the function of the organization, which was lacking from its previous name.