Healdsburg Reach for Home Implements new “Street Medicine” Program to help the homeless in Sonoma County

The Sonoma County-based organization, “Reach for Home” has created a new program that helps the homeless on the streets in Healdsburg, Geyserville, Cloverdale, and Windsor areas. Their new “Street Medicine” program will bring medical and mental health evaluations to those in need. 

Creator of the program and the Executive director of Reach for Home, Colleen Carmichael, said  their mission is to “establish a relationship with the most vulnerable people in the community, and create a foundation of trust so they can seek further help from a physician after the program initially gets them there”

Carmichael’s team has recently partnered with a retired psychiatrist, and a former nurse to help get the dice rolling on the project which is the first of its kind in the Sonoma County area. “Once we started talking about it, we knew we could launch the program once we could get the funding for it.” Said Carmichael. 

There are numerous different organizations within Sonoma county who have offered grants and donations. The Rotary Club, The Northern Sonoma County Health Care Foundation, Healdsburg and Geyserville fire departments, and the Wine Country to the Rescue, just to name a few. 

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“All we need for a program like this to work is compassionate people who are willing to help,” says Carmichael. The nurse on the street medicine team, Jaclyn Ramirez also said, “It’s just very cohesive, and once we make a relationship out on the street, it carries over to the hospital. It makes for better coordination of care.” When a community can come together, they can move mountains. 

Sonoma County's homeless population has been decreasing in recent years (2% from 2016 to June 2019), but that is not to say there is no one to be helped. There is still a 2951 some people in the Sonoma County area who are experiencing homelessness according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. 

The Reach for Home website states that homelessness is a problem that can be solved, “a programmatic approach the homeless can return to stable living environments. As reported by the Press Democrat, Jennielynn Holmes, Catholic Charities director of shelter & housing in Santa Rosa, states that a redoubled push to quickly house those needing basic assistance, including rent subsidies, appears to be paying off. The housing retention rate among residents who have participated in transitional housing programs so far is about 94 percent.” 

Reach for Home is not the only organization battling against homelessness though, “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires Sonoma County to conduct a Homeless Count to be eligible for approximately $3.7 million annually. This year, the State’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program provided an additional $12 million in what was supposed to be one-time funding for homeless services.” Said Michael Gause, Continuum of Care Coordinator of Sonoma County.

The non-profit organization, Reach for Home, has been changing the lives of the homeless in our community for what is 4 years now. And the success of launching this program will only bring more opportunity and help for those in need. 

Carmichael said that she and her co-founders could not emphasize enough how grateful they are for the organizations who donated and the community who believed in the “Street Medicine” program. “When people see the worth in it and want to help is what it takes for this program to be successful, and all the compassion is only helping it grow.”