Eviction of homeless camp along Santa Rosa's Joe Rodota Trail delayed

A rally was held in Santa Rosa Wednesday in support of the 250 homeless people whose encampment on the Joe Rodota Trail is being cleared. But the clearing of that encampment was delayed, again. 

Sonoma County ordered people living on the two-mile stretch of the popular hiking and biking trail between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol to move. 

They were initially told they had to leave by 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, but Sonoma county extended the deadline, giving them until Friday.

Sonoma is offering to move some of the people to a temporary-county camp in East Santa Rosa, but homeless advocates said about 200 people will be left with nowhere to go. 

"We protest because the county had better options, ones with dignity and autonomy that house people at lower costs," said advocate Merlin Davis with the Democratic Socialists of America. "We protest because 96% of the world's countries have a longer life expectancy than the average homeless person in Sonoma County."

Kathleen Finnegan with Sonoma County Homeless Action said the unhoused are struggling just to exist and have been "systematically persecuted, criminalized, dehumanized and stigmatized." 

The county said it has contacted the people who will not be moving to the camp about other shelter options. 

"This week in particular, we've been both assessing and moveing people to our emergency shelter at Los Guilicos. We'll continue that work today and tomorrow as well," said Rohish Lal with Sonoma County Health Department. 

Activists note that the city and county are under a federal injunction to accommodate the homeless population until sufficient housing is available. 

"We have not reason to believe that such accommodations have been made," Finnegan said. 

The temporary 60 unit shelter still needs to be completed. 

"We're working to assess people and provide them with different options. We have shelters. We have vouchers and we're looking at all available options that we have for people and finding them a place," said Lal. 

Future plans call for 80 more shelter units at two other camps. The new shelter is temporary and is expected to close by the end of April. 

There are about 3,000 homeless people throughout Sonoma County.