Let me be clear--I am a social justice oriented humanitarian. I approached this project with an open mind from the very beginning. My heart was touched by the story I heard from Francis (tenant and spokesperson of Tamayo Village) at my first tour of the Warrack hospital campus. SAY Executive Director, Matt Martin, was very convincing and led me to believe that every young adult accepted into the "Dream Center" would be coming out of the foster system. Matt Martin led me to believe a lot of things. It all sounded really good on the surface to me. But, I felt it was important to look deeper into this. So I did.
The reality is that only a small percentage of individuals who will inhabit the Warrack facility can be characterized as such. The overwhelming majority (75% by SAY's own admission) are homeless adults (aged 18-24) who have NOT aged out of the foster care system. My concern is that according to government sources, a large percentage of homeless adults in the United States, unfortunately, have substance abuse and/or mental health problems and the majority have criminal records.
I am the first person to recognize the humanitarian need to assist these people coming out of the foster system and homeless adults. And...as a supporter of at-risk young adults, I am aware of the fact that the literature states that these folks do better in smaller family-like networks (group homes) where they attain solid abilities to succeed in society, instead of an dormitory / apartment style complex with little structure.
Most importantly: I have thoroughly reviewed SAY's application.
It is evident that the proposal lacks the rigor and supportive information needed to properly evaluate alternatives and develop the best outcome, not only for SAY partners and their clientele, but the Bennett Valley area as a whole. The proposal does not provide a well-thought out strategic plan for long-term successful implementation of services and integration into the larger community, which is fundamental to the future planning goals and objectives for the area. There are numerous questions that need to be addressed and a proper assessment of the magnitude and impacts of the SAY Dream Center and partner services on the community should be required by SAY during the planning and review process. The proposal is literally incomplete. Strategic information is being withheld. SAY services are not clearly defined and all related partner services are not identified and clearly defined. SAY has failed to provide a clear distinction and nexus between the services provided and the impacts the facility and operations would have on the larger community.
The only way to assess the impacts is to complete a SEIA (Socio-Economic Impact Assessment). I, along with the majority of my neighbors, find it absolutely unconscionable if the City of Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa City Council and the Planning Commission do not require a SEIA.
If SAY is truly the "good neighbor" they constantly claim to be, then all they have to do is commission a neutral third party SEIA. Prove it SAY. Prove to us that you are a "good neighbor." I want to believe that you are. However, so far, I don't believe you...and I'm not alone, to say the least.
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