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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Homelessness increases over 20% in San Mateo County

homeless in San Mateo County

San Mateo County Executive Officer Mike Callagy reported that a one-day count found that there are 1,808 homeless people in San Mateo County. Saint MatthewThis indicates that providing shelter and affordable housing, as well as health and mental health services, are key to ending the problem.

"While that number may seem daunting to some, we know that we have the capacity and commitment to end homelessness here in San Mateo County," Callagy said during a virtual meeting of community leaders held last Friday

During his participation, he detailed that the local government is already working on gathering the necessary resources and support "to create a clear path from homelessness to permanent homes". 

During the second in a series of events titled "2022: Our Year of Working Together to End Homelessness," he detailed that to get people off the street there are significant new shelter resources that recently opened and additional ones coming in a matter of months.

For his part, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Horsley said that systems can be put in place to ensure that when individuals and families become homeless, it is infrequent, brief and one-time.

"We know we have work to do and we are committed to providing the resources necessary to complete that work," he stressed.

Homelessness in San Mateo County: By the Numbers

According to a "point-in-time" count, which in one day counts the number of people who are homeless at a given time, was conducted on February 24 by teams of community members who fanned out across San Mateo County to find and count the unsheltered. 

In addition, a count of those in shelters and temporary housing was conducted.

On that day, the county was found to have 1,092 homeless persons. That represented a 21 percent increase - 191 people - over the 2019 one-day count. 

Meanwhile, 716 people were identified as living in collective shelters and hotels that have been converted into temporary housing. This meant an increase of 17 percent - 105 people - compared to the same count two years ago.

"While the numbers are up, we believe the situation could be much worse without the supports we have put in place due to the impacts of the pandemic," said Ken Cole, director of the County's Human Services Agency.

"The last few years have been incredibly hard on many individuals and families. They deserve our compassion and, more than that, our promise that we will do everything in our power to ensure that every homeless person can get into a shelter and work to find a permanent home," he added.

These "point-in-time" count results seek to provide data that will help inform policymakers and providers about the homeless population and understand trends. 

It should be noted that agencies receiving federal funds are required to conduct a point-in-time recount every two years; the 2021 recount was rescheduled to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county detailed that it has set a goal of creating enough shelter beds and transitional housing units to achieve "zero functional" homelessness, which means ensuring that every homeless county resident who chooses assistance can be safely housed in an emergency shelter or in temporary or permanent housing. 

It also, they said, means that outreach staff will continue to interact with those who are not currently interested in accessing services.

He said that providing temporary and permanent housing options is a key component of the initiative along with the expansion of support services to homeless, shelter and transitional housing residents. 

Supportive services address an individual's or family's housing barriers and include connecting people to employment opportunities, social service benefits, and health and mental health services.

To generate that momentum, Callagy announced 2022 as "Our Year of Working Together to End Homelessness."

The next event in the series, "Moving to a Permanent Home" will be held on Friday, June 3 at 10:00 am. 

To address urgent shelter needs, in April, the county began construction of 240 safe living spaces in a shelter now taking shape in Redwood City, east of Highway 101. 

The shelter that will replace the Maple Street shelter, which currently provides supportive services and emergency and transitional housing for up to 110 people each night, will allow people to have private bedrooms and 20 units will accommodate couples. 

The new facility will also provide outdoor space and expanded space for support service providers. Construction of the shelter is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

In addition to such construction, the county recalled that it has purchased five former motels/hotels to convert into temporary or permanent housing for people who are unsheltered or at serious risk of becoming unsheltered. 

You may be interested in: San Mateo County receives $500,000 for construction of homeless shelter

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