New volunteer service aims to clean up homeless encampment along popular Santa Rosa trail

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Volunteers in Sonoma County are hoping a new service will help address the homeless encampment along the Joe Rodota Trail which has become a problem for those who live nearby.

Twice a week volunteers from the Clean River Alliance roll through the mile of homeless people, picking up their trash.

"Well, it's necessary. When you lose your home you lose your trash service, too," said Chris Brokate, who runs the operation.

In the past two weeks, they have removed 25,000-pounds of blankets, boxes, food, and drug paraphernalia. That would be one method for cleaning up a homeless problem, while across town, close to 100 people used words at a fact-finding session.

Sonoma County has pledged to spend $12 million to build shelters and clear the Joe Rodota Trail in six months, if not sooner.

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"You find places that are designed or meant to house people," said Gerry Lalonde-Berg, who works with Sonoma County Human Services.

That could be the fairgrounds.

The county is also looking at buying houses and motels, and hearing mixed reviews about it.

Jason Kindle lives along the Rodota Trail. He doesn't believe $12 million can do the job.

"It will create a bureaucracy with no end in sight. Housing first without consequences and without sobriety is no different from this trail," said Kindle.

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Others, however, are hopeful.

James Newsom works next to a possible shelter site. He's encouraged about getting people off the streets.

"Yeah. We seem to be able to take care of the rest of the world. We should take care of our own people," said Newsom.

In Friday's meeting, an exchange of ideas, words that may eventually evolve into deeds in this county, where cleaning up has become more than a metaphor.

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