Emergency Warming Center

The Emergency Warming Center is CLOSED today.

The Haven Homeless ShelterThe City of Sonoma recognizes that unsheltered individuals may need assistance to stay warm during an Extreme Cold Weather Event. To address this need, the City of Sonoma may supplement existing Sonoma County Winter Shelter operations by operating an Emergency Warming Center at the Haven as necessary.

The Haven is the City's emergency homeless shelter and is located at 151 First St. W, in the Sonoma Police Department parking lot, next to the Dog Park.

The City Council approved guidelines for opening an emergency warming center at their November 15, 2023, meeting for the 2023/2024 winter season. The approved policy and guidelines constitute a temporary plan, and the City will continue to collaborate with regional jurisdictions to formalize responses to the increased frequency of extreme weather events, adjusting the response plan accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

An Extreme Cold Weather Event in the City of Sonoma is defined as either three consecutive days with overnight lows below 32 degrees Fahrenheit as forecasted by the National Weather Service (NWS) or forecast temperatures dropping below an average nighttime low of 37 degrees for two consecutive days with accompanying hazardous conditions during the overnight period.

The decision to open an Extreme Weather Warming Center is based on various factors, including National Weather Service forecasts, cold-related warnings, power outages affecting 200 or more customers, and health emergencies or orders related to cold weather issued by the Department of Health Services.

The City Manager (or designee) is responsible for determining the need to open the center, considering input from relevant agencies such as the County of Sonoma Department of Health Services, Department of Emergency Management, Sonoma Valley Fire District, and Sonoma Police Department.

City staff and contract personnel, assigned by the City Manager, coordinate and manage the Warming Center operations. A Warming Center Manager is appointed to oversee the establishment and management of the center. Staffing may be required at any time, including weekends and holidays.

The primary location is the City’s Haven Building at 151 First Street West, Sonoma. Other locations may be utilized as directed by the City Manager (or designee).

Typically, the center operates between 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., but hours may vary based on weather conditions, space availability, and other factors.

The center offers a place to warm up, charge electronic devices, cots for sleeping, light snacks, and beverages. Cooking facilities are not available. Individuals must be listed on the “by-name list” system used by homeless providers in Sonoma Valley and the City of Sonoma.

Well-behaved pets may be permitted at the discretion of the Warming Center Manager, and service animals are allowed. Additional pet restrictions or requirements will be provided to registrants at the time of registration.

If needed the Warming Center Manager will contact the Sonoma Police Department and Pets Lifeline to determine the availability of crates and/or kennel space if needed.

Background

In the winter of 2022/2023, the City with financial assistance from the County and volunteer staff support by our local non-profit homeless service providers opened an Extreme Weather Warming Center at the Sonoma Veterans Hall for a total of eight nights. On average it served seven individuals an evening.

The activation of the Extreme Weather Warming Center put considerable strain on the City's day-to-day operations given that the City does not have adequate capacity to staff and manage an emergency Warming Center for any length of time. In addition, the City did not have defined criteria or a established guidelines for opening emergency warming centers.

The City acknowledged the need for a policy due to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and proposed criteria for activation to supplement existing county-wide winter shelter operations. The temporary plan emphasizes collaboration with regional jurisdictions to address the growing challenges posed by extreme weather events.

On November 15, 2023, Sonoma City Council adopted an operational policy for the opening of an emergency warming center in response to extreme weather events (Resolution # 75-2023), and on November 28, 2023, the City issued an RFP for a warming center/shelter operator.

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