San Mateo County Sees Sharp Decline in Unsheltered Homeless
As preliminary results become available on the County’s Homeless Census, a significant decrease in homeless living on the streets and in the homeless population as a whole, is welcome news. Early numbers show a potential 47% reduction in the number of unsheltered individuals and families countywide, compared to 2013 counts, including zero families with children. Fewer sheltered homeless were found, as well.
In the early morning hours of January 22, 2015, San Mateo County sent nearly 200 volunteers out to the streets to conduct the bi-annual census of sheltered and unsheltered individuals and families. While final numbers and additional details will be published in May, current data shows approximately 689 unsheltered homeless individuals living on streets, in vehicles, or in homeless encampments, (compared to 1,299 in 2013), and 915 homeless living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, motels, and institutions (compared to 982 in 2013). 10% of the total households (124) are families with dependent children. Additional information was collected subsequent to the count, when volunteers returned to the streets to conduct 250 surveys for demographic and geographic data, composition of household, and duration and reason for entry into homelessness, and services needed. This information and final numbers will be available by May 2015.
“This is great news for San Mateo County, and evidence that our community’s collective efforts are working. Even in a time of record-high housing costs, the innovation of our partners in initiatives such as the homeless outreach teams, and the dedication of our shelters make a real difference. We still have work to do, in getting everyone desiring a home in one, and this data suggests that we are making progress. Addressing or preventing homelessness ultimately creates a stronger, more stable and more thriving community across the board," said Human Services Agency Director Iliana Rodriguez.
A program of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), the Homeless One Day Count provides a point-in-time snapshot of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals observed on the same winter’s morning throughout participating regions nationwide. Coordinated by San Mateo County’s Human Services Agency, the knowledge gained by this effort will be applied locally, to inform federally-required local plans, and to help the County’s Center on Homelessness direct resources according to the characteristics of homelessness revealed by the results.
Preliminary count results were presented to the San Mateo County HOPE (Housing Our People Effectively) Interagency Council last week, and will be analyzed along with other information to inform and design County-funded homeless services over the next few years. Additionally, the Human Services Agency commissioned an independent analysis of homelessness in SMC. Data from multiple sources were analyzed and presented to the Board of Supervisors on March 17, looking at the success rates of current services and comparing them to national benchmarks. Next, the Agency, its partners and stakeholders will prepare recommendations for future homelessness services, and present them to the Board.
Additional information on the County’s homeless services is available at http://hsa.smcgov.org/