North Bay nonprofit renting vacant homes to help formerly unhoused people

"This is a lifesaver."

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Monday, October 16, 2023
Bay Area nonprofit renting vacant homes to help formerly unhoused
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A Bay Area nonprofit is finding success renting shared homes to people who were once chronically unhoused. Organizers say the program is working.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- A North Bay nonprofit is finding success renting shared homes to people who were once chronically unhoused. Organizers say the program is working.

"This is where I spent my day in the kitchen, dining room, and outside," said Sandra Eddy.

Eddy showed us around the Rohnert Park house she's proud to call home.

"This, for me, this is a lifesaver, I'm on a fixed income," she added.

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Housemates Georgia Bessard and Cynthia Steir were there too, where there's always lots of laughter in the kitchen.

All three women may have different backgrounds but there's one thing they share, they were once unhoused.

"I found myself with nowhere to live," said Steir.

That's when they discovered SHARE Sonoma County, a nonprofit that's leasing vacant homes for those formerly unhoused individuals.

"If SHARE had not accepted me, I don't know if I would be here today," said Eddy.

"We are really creating housing that somebody could stay in for the rest of your life," said Amy Appleton.

Appleton created the program which secures the lease, then acts as landlord and property manager.

Residents pay what they can in rent based on their income.

Each house has a case manager to help tenants with medical, financial or employment needs.

"They check on me if I'm having problems or issues. They tell me to come to the office or they will come here," said Bessard.

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Appleton started small with one house. Today, she has 22 homes and more than 80 clients.

"Since last year, we have additional grants because it's been recognized this is a viable housing solution for the homeless population," said Appleton.

Shiela Peterson has leased two homes to the SHARE program.

"It gets people off the street and they get a place to live. We get people in our home. Obviously these are our rentals, but everybody wins," said Peterson.

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For Cynthia, Sandra and Georgia, having new friends and a place to call home is real.

"I feel like this is a family and that's what we need, someone who cares," said Bessard.

You can learn more about SHARE Sonoma County here.

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