By Christopher Oak Reinier
Since July of this year, West County Community Services (WCCS) has begun placing a total of eight mobile living units for homeless families and individuals in Park Village in Sebastopol. To date, two homeless families and two homeless persons have been placed in four of the newly added living units in the Park.
Paulette Hall, WCCS case manager at Park Village, has been working since June this year to prepare the Park for the new residents and to help them settle into the Park. Paulette and Dannielle Danforth, WCCS Director of Housing, visited churches and food donation locations for references and to inform homeless individuals of the housing possibility. With the help of the Police Department, interested individuals were vetted to assure that they had no record of criminal felonies or violent and disorderly behavior, including no records of drug abuse, alcohol and sexual misconduct.
Residents of Park Village cannot possess or use illegal drugs. There is no smoking in public spaces, and no smoking, including marijuana smoking, in WCCS living units, and no disturbing of neighbors. Violation of the rules can lead to expulsion from the living unit. Paulette is finding, as most homeless housing case-managers find, that there is a learning curve for the homeless, lessons to learn in how to live with others. She is optimistic about how it is working. The new residents appreciate having a safe home. And Paulette’s helpful hand.
Paulette also provides supportive services to all of the 65 or so very low-income residents of Park Village. If they are in need and are interested, she can avail them of employment training, youth services, behavioral health counseling, and the many services offered to low-income elderly citizens by West County Community Services. She has already involved 16 of the resident children in weekly activities.
WCCS will use its broad range of human services and partnerships to increasingly integrate the park and its residents into the broader community.
The homeless project is a joint venture between WCCS, the City of Sebastopol, and the Group of Advocates, a voluntary organization concerned about the homeless.