Regardless of shifting 1000’s of homeless folks into everlasting houses final 12 months, Santa Clara County noticed its unhoused inhabitants stay nearly unchanged, even because the variety of homeless households spiked, based on preliminary outcomes from its newest “point-in-time” rely.
The rely, taken on a single evening in January, recognized 9,903 folks dwelling outside, in automobiles or in homeless shelters throughout the county. That was a 1% dip from the greater than 10,000 homeless folks counted at the beginning of final 12 months.
Whereas the county housed round 3,600 homeless folks over the course of 2022, officers stated it wasn’t sufficient to beat rising financial inequality and a extreme scarcity of reasonably priced housing on the root of homelessness within the Bay Space.
“Individuals are nonetheless falling into homelessness quicker than we are able to home in any given 12 months,” stated KJ Kaminski, deputy director of the county’s Workplace of Supportive Housing.
At first look, essentially the most alarming determine within the outcomes seems to be the 1,226 homeless folks in households with youngsters, a 37% spike from final 12 months. In San Jose, that sub-population greater than doubled to 891.
However officers stated the rise was anticipated because of new efforts to attach with homeless households who are sometimes reluctant or unable to succeed in out for assistance on their very own. Virtually all homeless households recognized within the rely had been positioned in shelters, officers stated.
“There’s disgrace related to being related to companies,” stated Consuelo Hernandez, county supportive housing director. “And likewise, you’re in disaster and have youngsters.”
The rely outcomes come as frustration mounts over officers’ response to homelessness, as residents really feel the disaster is worsening regardless of a flood in state and native spending lately to spice up companies and create new shelters and supportive housing.
Whereas Santa Clara County’s homeless inhabitants elevated solely 3% throughout the pandemic regardless of widespread job losses, officers stated the affect of COVID-19 continues to be felt on every part from serving to unhoused folks discover jobs and housing to the time it takes to construct shelters.
The county’s newest rely decided that about two-thirds of its homeless inhabitants lived in encampments or different locations not meant for habitation, whereas the remainder have been staying in shelters. The variety of unsheltered folks within the county dipped 4% to 7,401.
San Jose noticed its homeless inhabitants drop almost 5% from final 12 months to six,340 folks, making up 64% of the county’s unhoused inhabitants. The rely discovered 4,411 unsheltered folks within the metropolis, a virtually 11% decline.
New Mayor Matt Mahan, who’s made lowering homeless encampments a centerpiece of his first time period, attributed the lower in unsheltered homelessness to the a whole bunch of tiny houses, prefabricated cabins and different “interim” shelter models the town has constructed lately.
Not like dorm-style shelters, San Jose’s interim websites present particular person rooms to offer residents extra privateness and stability. The hope is that unhoused persons are extra more likely to settle for the shelter and might higher benefit from companies, together with assist discovering everlasting housing.
Half the roughly 900 individuals who stayed on the metropolis’s interim shelters final 12 months moved into everlasting houses, although outcomes diversified extensively throughout the seven shelter websites. Some websites had a most keep of six months, whereas others allowed residents to remain a 12 months or extra.
Mahan is doubling down on that strategy, asking the town to put aside $50 million to assist add 1,000 new interim shelter beds this 12 months whereas additionally increasing no-encampment zones all through the town. Advocates have criticized the proposal, arguing the town ought to as a substitute focus that funding on low-income and supportive housing.
“In the long term, we’d like much more housing, particularly much more reasonably priced housing,” Mahan stated. “Within the brief run, I might argue, and perhaps not everybody would agree, that I might have a bias towards making an attempt to get folks out of encampments as quick as doable.”
Santa Clara County moved ahead with this 12 months’s rely although most Bay Space counties aren’t scheduled to do their subsequent counts till 2024. Officers stated this 12 months’s tally was meant to make up for the 2021 rely, which was canceled due to the pandemic. The county will now do its rely each odd 12 months going ahead.
Extra detailed outcomes from this 12 months’s rely shall be obtainable within the coming months.
Officers acknowledge homeless counts — carried out by groups of volunteers — present merely an estimate relatively than a exact census. However they provide cities and counties the clearest understanding of their homeless populations and assist decide how a lot federal funding they obtain for homelessness packages.
Earlier this month, Mahan and the mayors of California’s largest cities — together with mayors Sheng Thao of Oakland and London Breed of San Francisco — visited Sacramento to ask for a assured $2 billion in state homelessness funding annually, as a substitute of one-time grants and packages launched by Gov. Gavin Newsom lately.
Hernandez with the supportive housing workplace stated extra ongoing and predictable funding streams shall be important to following by on the county’s new efforts to alleviate the disaster.
“That might really permit us to plan and venture out: How can we maintain the system that we constructed?”