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In Santa Clara County, nearly three new people seek assistance for each person who exits homelessness, according to preliminary results of a biennial county of homeless people.

Santa Clara County and the City of San Jose on May 16 announced preliminary results of the biennial homeless census covering the county’s 15 cities and unincorporated areas. The count, conducted over two days in January, found the number of homeless adults increased significantly over the past two years, resulting in an increase in the region’s overall homeless population.

The county and San Jose have housed approximately 4,000 formerly homeless families and individuals since 2017. Despite these efforts, the number of newly homeless residents continues to outpace the capacity of county and city systems to place people in stable housing, the county reported.

“The reasons for homelessness are many and varied,” said Joe Simitian, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “The high cost and shortage of housing are making a bad problem worse. Combining our efforts to prevent homelessness and create supportive housing with 2016 Measure A— Affordable Housing Bond—funds will continue to be an essential strategy in addressing homelessness.”

So far, the county has committed $234 million in Measure A funds toward 19 housing developments that will collectively add 1,437 apartments for the most vulnerable in our community, according to the county.

The county’s overall homeless count was 9,706, an increase of 2,312 over 2017. In San Jose, the overall homeless count was 6,172, up from 1,822 in 2017. The numbers are part of a biennial nationwide tally for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Details of the homeless count for Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin are expected to be available in June when the complete homeless census is released.

“We must double down on homelessness prevention and, in turn, alleviate the human misery and greater public cost following an eviction notice,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “It’s also time to end the reign of the NIMBY in Silicon Valley.”

“We all have a shared responsibility to address this crisis—every city and every neighborhood. That means we must house homeless neighbors here, not the proverbial ‘somewhere else’.”

In Santa Clara County, the 2019 census found the number of homeless family members was 921, down from 1,075 in 2017. The number of homeless veterans was 653, down slightly from 660 in 2017.

To address the rise of homelessness, the county has prioritized development of housing for residents experiencing homelessness and households making less than 30 percent of the area’s median income. The 2019 census found the numbers also increased for chronically homeless and the unsheltered population.

  • Countywide, the number of chronically homeless was 2,470, an increase of 373 over 2017. The percentage of homeless county residents who were unsheltered was 82 percent, up from 74 percent in 2017. And the number of unaccompanied youth and young adults was 1,876. While this figure was down from 2017, the decline was due in part to a change in methodology for counting young people.
  • In San Jose, the number of people considered chronically homeless was 1,579, an increase of 374 over 2017. The percentage of homeless residents who were unsheltered was 83 percent, up from 74 percent in 2017. And the number of unaccompanied youth and young adults was 1,391.
  • “Now is the time to redouble our efforts to solve this crisis,” said Jennifer Loving, chief executive officer of Destination: Home. “The solutions are right here in front of us; we just need to mobilize the collective will and resources to scale our proven strategies and meet the enormous need in our community. Bottom line: Homelessness is solvable.”
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