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Los Guilicos Shelter Village for People Experiencing Homelessness

March 4, 2020

Sonoma County opens Pallet shelter village to address a homeless encampment near a popular trail.

One of California’s largest homeless encampments, the Joe Rodota Trail in Sonoma County was “home” to more than 200 people facing homelessness — the largest encampment in the county’s history. The encampment had grown dramatically over the course of 2019, with tents lining more than a mile of the popular bike trail in the heart of Santa Rosa.

As conditions on the trail worsened and the situation turned increasingly more dangerous for those living there, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors acted quickly to turn a county parking lot into a temporary, emergency shelter community.

On January 10th, Sonoma County announced a plan to relocate people from the unsafe conditions on the trail to a sanctioned, stable, and managed site named Los Guilicos Village, equipped with shelter, case management, and other services.


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Personal Shelter Accommodations

The Los Guilicos Village site is made up of sixty personal shelters manufactured by Pallet, each providing security for those who were formerly living on the Joe Rodota Trail. Built of insulated composite with an aluminum frame, each 64 square foot shelter features a locking door for privacy and security, a bunk bed, shelves for storage, and windows. Each resident has a wall-mounted heater for personal climate control.

Called “Pallet” shelters because they’re shipped on pallets, each panelized shelter arrived in seven pieces (the floor, four walls, and two roof panels) plus finishing elements such as shelves, bunk beds, and bolts. In less than an hour, each shelter is built with minimal tools required. Due to the shelter’s structural aluminum floor, no site preparation is necessary as long as the ground is relatively level.

These shelters are intended to be used as a stepping stone out of homelessness, and act as “one piece of the puzzle” on the pathway toward reintegration into society. Features like locking doors provide a sense of security and peace of mind, allowing residents to lock their personal belongings and leave their shelter to access jobs and other critical activities. One resident shared a feeling of being “chained to a tent” while he was living on the Joe Rodota Trail, unable to leave out of fear that his tent or its belongings would be stolen while he was away. A locking door changes that for the residents at Los Guilicos Village, who now have the freedom to leave their belongings in a secure place as they access necessary services.



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“Honestly, it's such an inspirational location. I think that what's really critical about [the shelter site] and why it's now full and why people actually wanted to move there is that everyone had their own personal space. They have an ability to go in their own little space, lock their belongings, and leave. This allows them to go to job interviews, to go to work, and access services.”

- Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

Shelter Community Services

Services for residents at Los Guilicos Village are just as important as the shelters located at the site. Personal case management, for example, provides each resident a custom plan toward reintegration into society, including permanent housing navigation, counseling, support to identify needs, and referrals to appropriate services where appropriate. St. Vincent de Paul is the designated service provider, and responsible for all site management.


Each shelter door was provided with a unique piece of art, provided by a local Sonoma artist to personalize shelter entrances.

Each shelter door was provided with a unique piece of art, provided by a local Sonoma artist to personalize shelter entrances.


A shuttle service provides residents with a free ride into town throughout the day.

A shuttle service provides residents with a free ride into town throughout the day.


A sanitation trailer provides residents with an on site location to take a warm shower.

A sanitation trailer provides residents with an on site location to take a warm shower.

Other services provided at Los Guilicos Village to promote health and safety include communal showers, toilets, trash collection, laundry, meals, parking for residents’ vehicles, a dog run, and oversize storage for residents’ belongings.

“The ultimate goal is to bring [people experiencing homelessness] into this stable environment, provide a really nice, comfortable, and dignified space for them, but ultimately it is to move them into the permanent housing opportunities that the county is working on,” said Jack Tibbetts, Executive Director at St. Vincent de Paul, the designated service provider.

The site does not allow drugs or alcohol, and security monitors the community’s entrances around the clock for the safety of its residents and the neighboring communities.


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Additional Information on the Shelter Community

To view the detailed project timeline, additional community features, and contact information for key partners involved in this project, click here to download the Sonoma County community case study.

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