Cold weather, expected storms activate homelessness outreach efforts in North Bay

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Cold weather activates homeless outreach efforts in North Bay
In San Rafael, the race is on to protect the unhoused from the near freezing temperatures this week and the expected rain.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, the race was on to protect the unhoused from the near freezing temperatures this week and rain that isn't far away.

Sandi McMillion was helping the unhoused and their dogs get ready for the elements - windy, cold weather is coming.

AccuWeather Forecast: Clear and cold tonight, partly cloudy and cooler tomorrow

"Do you need a jacket of any kind," asked McMillion.

She's a volunteer with the Ritter Center in San Rafael, a nonprofit outreach working to end homelessness.

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"I was once unhoused myself, I know what it's like to be out here in the cold - it's freezing and raining, you need something to keep you safe and warm because this weather will kill you out here, you know," said McMillion.

Ritter estimates there are 1,200 unhoused people living on the streets of Marin County.

"One of the things we do is give out a lot of raincoats, panchos and tents to help them stay out of the elements," said Ritter Center CEO, Mark Shotwell.

A series of storms is also in the forecast later this week. Last year, an atmospheric river left parts of downtown San Rafael underwater.

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Fall storms left Marin County nonprofit Ritter Center flooded and heavily damaged, but some generous ABC7 viewers stepped up to help in a big way.

"Many of us in California are praying for rain but it's difficult for people who are homeless and unsheltered," Shotwell added.

Sonoma Water officials hope the approaching storms improve the dismal drought picture. Lake Sonoma, one of the area's prime sources of drinking water, is now at its lowest level in history, just 40% capacity.

"It's pretty low, with a lot of conservation efforts we can make that water last for the next year but it's an uncomfortable place to be," said Sonoma Water spokesperson Andrea Rodriguez.

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