More California Cities Experiment with Sanctioned Homeless Camps

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Rectangles are painted on the ground to encourage homeless people to keep social distancing at a city-sanctioned homeless encampment across from City Hall in San Francisco, California, on May 22, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Last year, in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 among unhoused people, officials in Santa Rosa created a sanctioned encampment in the parking lot of a local community center. Those living at the site reported feeling safer and having better access to services, and neighborhood residents who initially opposed the idea came to view the program positively. Elsewhere in the state, San Francisco set up “Safe Sleeping Sites” last May, and Sacramento recently created two “Safe Ground” sites, with one being for people living in cars and RVs. The idea is being floated in Los Angeles, as well, after police and protestors clashed over the clearing of an encampment at Echo Park last month. We’ll talk about Santa Rosa’s experiment in addressing homelessness and how other cities in California are implementing or thinking about sanctioned encampments.


Angela Hart, correspondent, Kaiser Health News

James Gore, supervisor, 4th District, Sonoma County; president, California State Association of Counties

Jennielynn Holmes, chief program officer, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa

Erika Smith, columnist, Los Angeles Times