San Francisco VA Health Care System
Palms Inn Houses Santa Rosa’s Homeless Vets
One of the VA’s top priorities is to house all homeless Veterans. Addressing that challenge, Sonoma County, California, has prioritized creating additional housing to support homeless Veterans and other local citizens in need. Also embracing the initiative is our Santa Rosa VA Clinic, whose staff is fervently dedicated to ending Veteran homelessness.
In September 2014, Akash Kalia, the current owner of the Palms Inn, a 104-room hotel on 3345 Santa Rosa Avenue in Santa Rosa, approached the VA after hearing about the successful Kearny Street project to house homeless Veterans in San Francisco. He proposed to convert his hotel rooms to single room occupancy facilities, with offices for service providers, such as the VA and Catholic Charities, to provide on-site essential services and case management to residents, according to Santa Rosa VA Clinic’s HUD/VASH Coordinator, Kym Valadez. Kym then met with local non-profit partners to see what could be done. “People were interested, as the rental market was tightening up, and it was getting increasingly difficult to house our low-income clients,” says Kym.
“One year later, our situation was, we had close to 100 Veterans with HUD/VASH housing vouchers, and nowhere to house them. Catholic Charities had lots of funding to get people off the street as well, and nowhere to house them,” says Kym. “So we partnered with Catholic Charities, and started negotiations with the owner of The Palms Inn, his attorney, the City and County of Sonoma, and our local elected officials. It was a long and arduous process, with a very successful outcome.”
In February 2016, Veterans started moving into the Palms Inn, which sits on a 6.3 acre site. “It’s quite a vibrant community here,” says Kym. “We have 60 previously homeless Veterans now residing at The Palms Inn, and 44 previously homeless individuals who receive services from Catholic Charities. There’s a community garden, guitar jamming sessions, food delivery service, fountains, and lots of open areas.”
“From the beginning, this project was a leap of faith for all of us; the whole Santa Rosa HUD VASH team has put their heart and commitment towards this supportive housing community for our most vulnerable Veterans; and we continue to be amazed at the spirit, generosity towards each other, and resiliency of the Veterans who live there.”
“Thanks also to our valued community partners who helped us make this project a reality: Catholic Charities, Santa Rosa Housing Authority, North Bay Veterans Resource Center, Interfaith Shelter Network, and Sonoma County Vet Connect, the American Legion, VFW, and Vietnam Veterans of America.,” says Kym. “This would not have happened without them, their hard work, and their belief that this could truly happen. We are thankful that we live in a community where we have partners and Veterans who are so willing, and committed, to helping other Veterans.”
If you are a landlord in Santa Rosa and would like to help house homeless Veterans, please contact Kym Valadez, LCSW, at (707) 333-6045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.