County receives $9.4 million windfall from federal government to
support local homeless programs
Gilroy – Santa Clara County received almost $9.4 million Tuesday as part of $1.33 billion dispersed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fight homelessness. It’s the most money the county has received in one year, and it will fund a variety of projects as part of a new 10-year program to end homelessness.
“What it says to me is that they’re getting really serious about ending this homeless problem,” said Margaret Gregg, the county’s homeless concerns coordinator. “They’re putting money in and not cutting when they’re cutting other programs. I fully expected to cut these programs.”
The biggest grants went to the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County and EHC Lifebuilders, which operates a number of temporary shelters and permanent housing programs throughout the county, including the Boccardo Family Living Center in San Martin.
New Directions, which serves frequent users of hospital emergency rooms, received $840,000. New Directions already has programs in all three San Jose hospitals and will add a program at St. Louise Regional Hospital in January.
The program, which is unique to Santa Clara County, identifies people who have used emergency services at least nine times in one year and assists them with getting a primary care doctor, transportation and, if needed, housing. Program manager Sherry Lebow said hospitals are a good place to reach chronically homeless individuals who are too proud to go to a shelter.
“Often the emergency room is the only service people are using because they won’t go to shelters except in really bad weather,” Lebow said. “We approach them and offer them services, and most of them are open to receiving them when they realize they won’t be judged.”
St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy received $240,000 in aid. The Sobrato Apartments, which will open in Gilroy next year, did not receive HUD funding.
The county’s push to end homelessness in a decade is part of federal initiative to shift the emphasis from emergency care and services to a finding a permanent solution to the country’s homeless problem. Federal officials hope that increased funding in the short-term will reduce the need for federal aid in the future.
The county has adopted a strategy that is heavy on permanent housing and uses a housing-first model that gets people off the streets and then into services for substance abuse and medical problems.
The first step of the county’s plan was an exhaustive street-by-street homeless census made last December. The census found 7,646 homeless people in the county.
That figure, combined with survey data, led homeless experts to conclude that a total of 20,338 people in the county are homeless at some point during the year. The census found 420 homeless in Gilroy and 36 in Morgan Hill.