Petaluma’s homelessness efforts paying off

It was not long ago that living on the streets of Petaluma was akin to a death sentence. From 2010 to 2014, there were 21 homeless people who died in the city, often in harsh conditions, sometimes due to drug abuse. In 2014 alone, eight bodies of homeless people were discovered.

In the past year, however, that trend has reversed. There were just two homeless deaths, and the entire homeless population declined in Petaluma in 2015. The turn around is in part due to increased homeless outreach from the police department, but also because of the efforts of Petaluma nonprofits that provide service to the most vulnerable in the community. It’s a positive trend that we hope continues into this year.

More than 60 percent of the city’s homeless population was living in shelters as opposed to on the streets in 2015, a significant increase from the 21 percent sheltered in 2013. Overall, the homeless population in Petaluma also declined significantly, from 909 in 2013 to just 361 last year. Petaluma’s share of Sonoma County’s homeless population is now 11.6 percent, compared to 21.2 percent in 2013.

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