As released in a report last week, the land at Sonoma Developmental Center, the state’s largest and oldest operating institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has the potential to fulfill much needed housing and workforce shortages in Sonoma County. The report, developed by a team of consultants on behalf of The State of California, is the result of a year long process of community stakeholder meetings, research, and planning aimed at the assessment of the condition of the property and options for uses of the land when the Developmental Center permanently closes at the end of the year.
The report specifically mentioned that during the eight years following the 2009 recession, the County delivered fewer than 700 new housing units per year on average, despite a major recovery in housing stats in the Bay Area overall. The report further said that, “While extensive growth is not a desired goal of some residents of Sonoma County, the ability to sustain the County’s economy into the future, provide relatively affordable housing for the next generation of families, and attract the kind of clean, knowledge-based industries and highwage jobs needed to sustain the local economy, are all increasingly threatened by the County’s inability to house its existing workforce, let alone attract new workers and households. This trend is likely to continue without a change in policy, and the SDC site represents a potential opportunity to contribute to the provision of workforce housing in Sonoma County.”
The Arc California has long advocated for the closure of developmental centers and to transition residents to community based services and supports. The Arc California and The Lanterman Coalition have proposed that revenues associated with the land at all three remaining developmental centers should be dedicated within the state to create affordable housing opportunities for Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The full report can be accessed here.
ordan Lindsey, Executive Director, The Arc of California