Category Archives: Homeless

New info on homelessness in Benicia

[Editor – Did you know that in Benicia “ten homeless individuals live on the streets and…between fifty and seventy women and men live in cars or hotels, couch surf on a friend’s sofa, camp in someone’s garage, or shelter in a storage unit.”  Read on….  – R.S.]

VOICE OF THE VILLAGE – Oh, what I learned last week!

The Benicia Herald, by Judie Donaldson, November 26, 2021

            Carquinez Village recently formed an “Over Ninety” group that Janice Magner leads in conversational exchanges. I heard that one question Janice posed to everyone recently was, “What is one thing you learned this week?” That sounded like fun, so I added it to my weekly routine. Thanks to Carquinez Village member Pat Plant, I sure didn’t have any trouble answering the question last week!

What did Pat have to do with my learning? She organized a program for the Heritage Presbyterian Church that was so interesting, compelling, and heartfelt that I went overboard taking notes. What was it that stimulated me? I bet you’ll be surprised. The program focused on Benicia’s homeless population and our police department’s relationship with it.

Were you also surprised that I used those three adjectives––interesting, compelling, and heartfelt–– to describe the program? I was surprised. I felt proud to be a citizen of Benicia as I listened, learned, and enriched my understanding of our police force’s response to our homeless population. I believe that we are all in this world together, and the better we understand one another, the better the world will be. So, I want to share a little of what I learned.

For starters, although I don’t have time to do justice to the topic of homelessness, I want to at least mention that it is typically a multi-faceted problem that stems from factors such as a lack of affordable housing, evictions, and foreclosures; unemployment and job loss; poverty and the high cost of living; and violence, drugs, and domestic abuse. Some believe homelessness is a failure of capitalism.

Last week’s program featured Police Officer Maricella Ticknor. What an impressive young woman (and young mother, by the way).  Maricella joined the Benicia police force four and one-half years ago and, along with serving as the police department’s School Resource Officer and assuming patrol duty as needed, Maricella is the Police Liaison Officer with Benicia’s homeless population.

Maricella spent the evening fielding questions that provided insight into the overall philosophy of our police force­­ as a team of officers responsible for keeping us safe, but also committed to assisting Benicians––including members of our homeless population––in whatever way they can. As Maricella described her work with our homeless, I reflected on our good fortune to have someone so empathetic and committed in this role. She spent the evening offering a kind of “Homelessness in Benicia 101” perspective.
When she joined the force, Maricella recalls that Benicia had a homeless population of three. She estimates that today it has skyrocketed to between sixty and seventy. COVID bears significant responsibility for this escalation. Many of our homeless grew up in Benicia. Approximately ninety percent suffer from some form of a mental health problem.

Maricella depicts Benicia’s homeless population as consisting of two categories. First, approximately ten homeless individuals live on the streets and reject any effort that entails going into a shelter. I am guessing they might be described as chronic homeless. It may be hard for us to understand, but shelters feel unsafe to them. (Stealing is a frequent problem.) Shelters also represent a situation in which their autonomy and agency are threatened. Maricella explained that there are dozens of revolving hidden encampments in and around Benicia where they reside. Out of respect to those living in encampments, she declined to identify their locations.

Second, between fifty and seventy women and men live in cars or hotels, couch surf on a friend’s sofa, camp in someone’s garage, or shelter in a storage unit. She considers them to be our biggest problem. Many are homeless because of a job loss, drug problem, poverty, housing eviction, or mental health condition. Most are in search of housing and seek to return to a stable life. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing is a significant barrier. Maricella pointed out that some of those in this situation have a car and shop in Safeway and other stores as an unrecognized part of our general population.

In her liaison role, Maricella builds relationships and trust with members of the homeless community. Her goal is to connect them to resources and place them in a housing situation. We have resources available through the county and the state.

A member of the Solano County Outreach office joins Maricella once each month, bringing with her the paperwork needed for individuals to apply for various benefits.  Maricella and the Outreach representative meet with as many of our homeless as possible and encourage and help those interested in completing applications.

Maricella works persistently to get our homeless individuals into shelters. There is a shelter in Fairfield that offers extensive resources once a homeless person is staying there. Benicia covers the cost of one bed in the shelter, but Maricella said she has never been turned down when she has requested space for several people on the same night.

I think of Maricella as the caretaker of Benicia’s most vulnerable population and, by supporting them, she serves all of us. So, what does all of this mean for you and me? Of course, I can only speak for myself. Every day I give thanks for my privilege. I never want to forget that there are those, including our homeless, who have been less fortunate. Let’s all hope their situations change and one day they, too, will be able to count themselves among the privileged. Wouldn’t that be great? After all, when each of us does better, we all benefit.

Help for homeless here in Vallejo, Benicia and Solano County

Are you – or someone you know – homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless?

Resource Connect Solano can help.

Call 707.652.7311 or email to learn how RCS can
help you navigate your housing crisis.  Connect with life-changing housing and supportive services through access points across Solano County.

Visit to learn more.

Solano County lands $430,000 in state aid to help homeless amid Covid-19 outbreak

Fairfield Daily Republic, by Glen Faison, March 24, 2020
A man sleeps in a grassy area at the entrance to Allan Witt Park along West Texas Street in Fairfield, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Glen Faison/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — Solano County will soon receive more than $430,000 to help the local homeless population during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The governor’s office announced the emergency grants Monday in a press release. The grants are part of $100 million in emergency funding that’s being distributed across the state.

Solano County will have an emergency grant of $206,370. The Vallejo/Solano Continuum of Care will manage a grant of nearly $224,309.

The state awarded the emergency grants to California counties, Continuums of Care and the state’s 13 largest cities to help protect the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the governor’s office reports.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said there are an estimated 108,000 unsheltered homeless people across the state.

Funding for the emergency grants was included in Senate Bill 89, which Newsom signed into law March 17. SB 89 authorizes up to $1 billion in total spending to provide assistance to help fight the spread of Covid-19.

Newsom’s administration the next day allocated $100 million in emergency funding from SB 89 to local governments to help protect the state’s homeless population and reduce the spread of Covid-19 by getting homeless people into shelter and providing immediate housing options.

The Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency’s Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council sent out award letters Monday, the governor’s office reports.

“The fast action by the Legislature in approving this funding has been matched by the swift action taken by our Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to get this money out the door and to the local jurisdictions where it’s needed,” Newsom said in a prepared statement. “This is money will be immediately available to help those who are homeless – among the most vulnerable to Covid-19.”

California’s 13 largest cities, or cities that are also a county, will receive nearly $42.97 million, while the state’s 58 counties will receive $27.34 million and California’s 44 Continuums of Care will receive nearly $29.69 million, the governor’s office reports.

The funding is intended for measures to help prevent and contain Covid-19 and can be used for medically indicated services and supplies, such as testing and hand-washing stations, according to the governor’s office. It can also be used for such things as acquiring new shelters, supplies and equipment for emergency shelter operations, increasing shelter capacity, street outreach and acquiring locations to place people who need to be isolated because of Covid-19 illness or exposure.

Solano County and the adjacent five counties combined will have nearly $7.09 million in emergency grant money available to help the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Sacramento will receive nearly $2.25 million. Sacramento County will receive $997,067. The Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care will receive $1.08 million.
  • Sonoma County will receive nearly $529,104. The Santa Rosa, Petaluma/Sonoma County Continuum of Care will receive nearly $575,096.
  • Contra Costa County will receive $411,485. The Richmond/Contra Costa County Continuum of Care will receive nearly $447,254.
  • Yolo County will receive $117,139. The Davis, Woodland/Yolo County Continuum of Care will receive nearly $127,648.
  • Napa County will receive $57,733. The Napa City and County Continuum of Care will receive nearly $62,752.

The city of Los Angeles will see the largest single emergency grant – nearly $19.34 million. The Los Angeles City and County Continuum of Care will receive another $10.96 million, while Los Angeles County will receive nearly $10.57 million.

Most people who have the new coronavirus experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health problems, experience more severe illness, such as pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover. The World Health Organization reports people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.