Petaluma Health Care District and Community Partners Launch Collaborative
Program for Petaluma’s Most At-Risk Homeless
Petaluma Sober Circle Offers Streamlined Services for Chronically Intoxicated
Homeless to Break Cycle of Addiction, Hospitalization and Incarceration
PETALUMA, Calif., Mar. 14, 2016 – Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD), in collaboration
with the Petaluma Police Department, the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), the Petaluma
Fire Department, the Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, the Petaluma Health Center, Sonoma
County Behavioral Health, St. Joseph Health, and the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa
Rosa, announces the implementation of Petaluma Sober Circle (PSC). Designed to build upon
efforts to address the needs of the city’s homeless population through sheltering, treatment and
other necessary services, PSC takes a critical step further by dedicating resources to direct
outreach to this vulnerable population. On Feb. 25, PSC received a grant to round out the
program’s funding and ensure implementation of a two-year pilot project.
“PHCD has been serving as the backbone organization to support and align local community
efforts to address the myriad needs and underlying causes of Southern Sonoma County’s
homeless residents, and we are thrilled that the hard work our dedicated partners have put in
has resulted in the launch of Sober Circle,” said PHCD CEO Ramona Faith. “We know this
program is already working and is allowing us to reach so many more community members in
need. The ultimate goal is to increase the chance of recovery, improve the quality of life, and
decrease homelessness, and we hope that our success will serve as a catalyst for an eventual
Sonoma County-wide program.”
Approximately 21 homeless people have died in Petaluma’s streets or by its waterways since
2010, and the Petaluma Police Department identified this as a critical issue in its community.
“We routinely meet with groups to discuss and work on issues affecting our citizens and the
safety of our community, coming up with strategies for solutions and better services. Officer Bill
Baseman was one of the early voices to get the conversation going about a better way to help
get intoxicated homeless – the people with the greatest need – the resources for a path to
sobriety, shelter, and a promising future,” said Petaluma Police Lieutenant Ken Savano.
Through their combined efforts, PSC collaborators are committed to connecting clients to
services to prevent such lonely deaths and guide them on a path to sobriety. Grants from St.
Joseph Health, Kaiser Permanente and Partnership HealthPlan of California, along with the
expansion of Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Services Team program will support efforts
to proactively reach out to those in need as soon as possible.
The Petaluma Police Department has committed a full-time homeless outreach officer, and a
new position created with the funding is also operating out of COTS. Officer Ryan DeBaeke and
Outreach Lead Randy Clay are working in tandem to make contact and build relationships with
potential clients, offering everything from socks, medical appointments, transportation to drug
and alcohol treatment, services, shelter and, ultimately, housing.
“Any delay is like an eternity when you’re ready to seek treatment,” said COTS CEO Mike
Johnson. “Joining forces with our community partners to get PSC up and running allows us to
offer help and hope right away to those in Petaluma who need it the most. Drug and Alcohol
treatment beds are set aside in the community for the program so that no one who wants
treatment is denied. Once out of treatment, a participant is guaranteed a bed at our Mary Isaak
Center and full access to the center’s programs, including the housing program.”
PSC is modeled after San Diego’s incredibly successful Serial Inebriate Program (SIP). At the
onset of the program in 2000, 887 homeless individuals were identified as chronic inebriate and
accounted for 3,483 arrests. Today, San Diego has seen a 78 percent reduction of chronic
inebriated homeless in the city. Approximately 700 people have benefitted from the program
and are no longer entering a sobering center or jail. Also determined through studies over the
past 15 years since SIP’s inception, each client that has accepted the program results in a
$73,000 savings per month in health care costs alone.
With San Diego’s documented success as an indicator, PSC is expected to save the city of
Petaluma, Petaluma Police Department and Petaluma Valley Hospital precious time and
financial resources that might have otherwise been dedicated to emergency room services and
arrests and incarceration.
“We are happy a multitude of organizations recognized the seriousness of the problem and the
importance of our collaboration,” Lieutenant Savano said. “We express heartfelt thanks to our
community partners for helping to fully-fund and launch PSC so we can get people into
treatment and start rebuilding their lives. This will ultimately reduce incarcerations, improve
public safety, and reduce the impact on local police, fire, and emergency medical services.”
PSC is a community effort. If you see someone you think needs help, please contact COTS
Outreach Lead Randy Clay at 707-765-6530 x126 and he will attempt to make contact promptly.
About Petaluma Health Care District
The Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD) is dedicated to improving the health and well-being
of the Southern Sonoma County community through leadership, advocacy, support,
partnerships and education. Its vision is to foster a healthier community, a thriving hospital and
local access to comprehensive health and wellness services. PHCD has served the health and
wellness needs of the community for 70 years and is a public agency managed by the
community for the community. For more information, please visit www.phcd.org