SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning unanimously approved buying two multi-unit residences that will provide temporary, shared rental housing for some of the 220 homeless people currently camping on the paved Joe Rodota Trail between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.

The purchases include a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 866 Sonoma Ave. in Santa Rosa The .41-acre parcel also includes two cottages and a large detached garage. The selling price is $1.15 million.

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The second purchase is a multi-unit property containing a two-bedroom, two-bathroom remodeled cottage and a duplex with each unit containing two bedrooms and one bathroom at 8190-8194 Arthur St. in Cotati.  The selling price is $980,000.

The tenants of the two residences will be required to pay rent equal to one-third of their monthly income.

Nearly all of the two dozen people who spoke at the meeting opposed the purchases. They said the Joe Rodota Trail campers include people from outside of the county and substance abusers. Many objected to spending $2.1 million on the two residences.

Rebecca Ennis lived in a back unit on the Sonoma Ave. property in Santa Rosa for 10 1/2 years. She says she received a notice to move in October.

“The timing seemed odd. I mean, myself and the other tenant on the property we were given 60 days notice during the Kincade Fire. That in and of itself is really stressful,” Ennis told KPIX.

“I understand that there is tenants maybe in the other property the county did purchase. I just personally don’t understand why we would displace people to house people. That, like I said, it feels like robbing from Peter to pay Paul,” Ennis said.

Homeless camp in Santa Rosa. (CBS)

The purchases and closing costs will be financed by the county’s General Fund and the Community Development Commission’s discretionary fund balance. The CDC will be reimbursed with revenue from California’s No Place Like Home grant.

Some speakers said trail campers, including a former San Francisco resident, said they were given a bus ticket to relocate to Santa Rosa.

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Barbie Robinson, the interim director of the Community Development Commission, said most of the homeless campers have lived in the county “for an extended period of time,” and some of the trail campers have previously been homeless in other parts of the county. Robinson said white, middle-age men are overwhelmingly the main demographic of the county’s homeless.

Robinson said some of the goals of housing the trail campers is to provide economic independence, self-sufficiency and medication management.  She said 15 beds will be available for treatment and rehabilitation of substance abusers.

With a homeless crisis of nearly 3,000 people on the streets of Sonoma County and 250 just on the Joe Rodota trail, Ennis wanted to make on point clear.

“I want homes over everyone’s heads. So, that’s not my beef at all,” Ennis said.

She and her child moved into another place in the same school district around Thanksgiving. She told her story to the county board of supervisors on Tuesday.

“My goal is that hopefully in the future, when these kinds of things happen and we’re purchasing and trying to make amends of obviously a really critical situation, that it’s all very clear, it’s very straightforward. The public is informed and I just don’t want to see anybody moved out of their home again in this kind of a situation.”

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday afternoon voted to open an emergency shelter in Los Guilicos, a location many say is impractical.\

EDITORS NOTE: After our report aired, the owner of the Sonoma Street property contacted KPIX5 and clarified that her property was listed for sale and the tenants were served with notices to vacate months before the County looked at the property for possible purchase

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. KPIX 5’s Andria Borba and Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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