Homeless Healthcare Services

Frequently Asked Questions
Homeless Healthcare Program

Updated January 19, 2016 1.27 pm

What is the West County Health Centers Homeless Healthcare Program?

WCHC applied for and received federal funding to open a new facility to address the complex health care needs of those who are currently homeless and those at risk of homelessness. Community health centers play a vital role in helping to pull people out of homelessness and keeping others housed.

Why is a new site for homeless healthcare services necessary?

  • Even before the recent fire, the Russian River Health Center was not able to meet the demand for services in the community. With the expanded capacity that the new clinic offers, RRHC will be able to serve more community members.
  • The new Homeless Healthcare services are designed to meet the unique needs and address barriers to health care for the homeless community.

When and where will this clinic open?  

Initially, we will locate the program in a modular building on one of our existing properties in Guerneville. We expect to be open for operation by mid-February. Once the County funded shelter and service center is operational, we will relocate our services to a building adjacent to the shelter.   

What services will be offered? 

With new Federal funding we are able to offer a comprehensive array of services to address the root causes of homelessness. These services include: behavioral health and psychiatric care, substance abuse counseling, case management, primary care, dental care, and outreach. Through partnerships with other non-profit and county services, we will link people to shelter and housing programs.

Will WCHC run the Shelter and Day Services Center? 

No. WCHC will continue to focus on our mission: to provide comprehensive, quality, and accessible health care services to the communities of western Sonoma County. Shelter and Housing is a complex issue and the shelter facility will be operated by a local service agency with experience in that area.

General Homeless Issues  
Frequently Asked Questions

Updated January 19, 2016 1.27 pm

Why do people become homeless?

There is no one cause. It’s a combination of past trauma, disease of addiction, mental health, chronic health conditions, disabilities, rising cost of housing, financial hardship, family struggles, domestic violence, etc. All of us have someone in our family who has been touched by these things. When someone does not have family support, friends, community, accessible, affordable healthcare, and someone to advocate for you in times of trouble it is easy for them to slip through the cracks unnoticed.

Why are there so many homeless in West County?

Homelessness is a growing issue throughout the county and nation. Surprisingly, the annual Sonoma County Homeless Census conducted by the county in 2015 found 241 homeless people in unincorporated West County in 2015, a reduction of 33 from the 2013 count of 274. While this is not an exact science, it does indicate that the population has at least stabilized over the last two years.

Are the homeless coming from out of the area?

While there may be a percentage that migrate from other areas within the county to Guerneville, the Annual Homeless Census found that prior to becoming homeless the most recent time, 86% of the homeless population reported living in Sonoma County. 

What Can a Year-Round Shelter Do?

• Establishes essential relationships to build trust and engagement with a focus on transitioning out of homelessness.

• Provide evidence based programs focused on establishing income and housing.

• Reduce the financial impact homelessness has on the business community. Without year-round service center, the homeless have nowhere to go other than the downtown area to congregate, use the restroom, find temporary shelter from the weather, and seek social interaction.

• Creates a place for the public to seek assistance with homeless issues through outreach services.  



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