Petaluma People’s Village begins move-in, awaits remaining units

“It’s been a very good experience and I’m very appreciative of it,” Bradley Brown said.|

When Bradley Brown leaves his closing shift at a Petaluma Dollar Tree store, he is now met by the welcoming ambiance of his own, private home. It’s small — just 72 square feet — but it’s warm, equipped with a heater and his own bed.

Before Petaluma’s new interim housing community, which is still in the process of getting fully up and running after months-long setbacks, began taking shape, Brown had less to hope for. He had been sleeping in a tent at Steamer Landing Park near the SMART tracks off of D Street and eventually in a temporary winter shelter. For Brown, the new digs are a welcome change.

“It’s been a very good experience and I’m very appreciative of it,” Brown said in a Tuesday morning interview at his new home.

Brown, 51, and the nine other residents who have moved into units in the past few weeks, will have access to secure housing, food and showers for six months to a year at Petaluma’s People’s Village, which sits northwest of the 80-bed Mary Isaak Center on Hopper Street.

As Brown and other new residents settle in, workers continue construction on the remainder of the 25 housing units, which city officials approved for purchase in a $338,000 deal with Rohnert Park-based interim housing construction company Quickhaven.

The city’s decision to move forward with the interim housing solution came as the Petaluma City Council in September declared a homelessness crisis. Petaluma then became the second city in Sonoma County to endorse the tiny home concept.

Officials initially expected the People’s Village to be complete by early January, but pandemic-related supply chain issues prompted hefty delays. More than a dozen housing units have been built after breaking ground in early February. Brown said the on-site bathrooms and shower facility, which are separate from the units , have been built but are not yet open. Residents who have moved in are currently making a short walk next door to the Mary Isaak Center for bathroom use, as well as for eating meals and for case management.

Multiple requests for comment sent to COTS by phone and email were not immediately returned regarding recent progress on the interim housing community. But city Housing Manager Karen Shimizu said in a Tuesday afternoon voicemail that she was in talks with People’s Village program manager Stacie Questoni, who said move-in for the community has been successful to this point.

“The nine residents that are there are settling in nicely and (COTS is) working with them in providing services,” Shimizu said.

The tiny homes are among a suite of homelessness solutions Petaluma officials have rolled out since the start of 2021, committing millions toward efforts to combat the ongoing crisis.

They also demonstrate a new front in the battle, providing a level of independence, security and privacy for residents, many of whom are averse to barracks-style housing at traditional shelters.

In an email Tuesday afternoon, Quickhaven CEO and founder Dan Bodner said the project so far has been well received by residents.

“I think they are very happy,” Bodner said. He added that more unit structure materials recently shipped, and the remainder of the units will likely be ready for assembly later this month.

Each of Quickhaven’s housing units are fully insulated and provide electrical outlets. COTS is also providing a bed and other furniture in each unit, and the community will have common areas, including a dog park, once completed.

While the People’s Village sets a 10 p.m. curfew for residents, Brown said officials remain flexible, and have never questioned his arrival after his late-night work schedule. He also said, while COTS employees conduct brief weekly check-ins to ensure unit safety and care, residents maintain a sense of independence.

Most who are accepted into the People’s Village will be allowed stays ranging between six months and one year, depending on individual need, and will be offered on-site services that include job assistance, mental and behavioral health services and case management. For Brown, he said his ultimate hope is to gain access to permanent housing.

“I have just a lot of different things going on in my life that I need to deal with, and housing is one of them,” Brown said. “So that’s a long-term goal.”

While he continues to enjoy his cozy living space, Brown said one of the best aspects of staying at the People’s Village is the sense of community and family he’s built with fellow residents.

“I was in the shelter with six of them, and we’re all friends,” Brown said. “It keeps you from being lonely.”

Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at or 707-521-5208.

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