Sonoma County officials this week released a report on its effort to find shelter for homeless people who were living on the Joe Rodota Trail located in a county park in Santa Rosa.
In December, an estimated 250 people were living along two miles of the 8-mile trail between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. The campers were informed in January they had to leave the trail no later than Jan. 31 or face arrest for trespassing. County officials estimated 50 campers waited until the last day to leave.
At least 105 of the campers were placed in housing, including 60 at a temporary tiny house village in the Juvenile Justice Center complex on Rancho Los Guilicos Road off of state Highway 12 in south Santa Rosa.
Thirty-five campers went to emergency shelters, two to a medical facility, two to a residential treatment center and one to a motel, according to the report.
County staff members were present on the trail in January to offer shelter options and provide information and referrals about social services, including medical and dental help, substance use treatment, mental health treatment, disease testing and vaccines, Medi-Cal and general assistance, county officials said.
County staff spoke with and assessed the needs of at least 258 occupants. More occupants were approached, but not all chose to speak to staff members, according to the report.
There were 249 instances where the trail occupants refused to engage with county staff to access shelter and other services, according to the report. That number, however, includes more than one encounter with some individuals.
The majority of occupants were white men over 45 years old, according to the report. Males comprised 57.1 percent of the campers, and females 42.9 percent. Sixty-five percent of the campers were white, 11.5 percent were Latino or Hispanic, 11.5 percent were black/African American and 6.2 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native.
The campers began living on the trail in the fall and the county declared a state of emergency in December due to the squalid and unsanitary conditions that reportedly included human waste, a rat infestation and used hypodermic needles. Homeowners living along the trail made several complaints.