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Bay Area's biggest county gets encouraging sign in new homelessness data

KCBS Radio San Francisco logo KCBS Radio San Francisco 8/10/2022 Marcus White
Unhoused child wearing fingerless gloves hold a cardboard cutout of a home. © Provided by KCBS Radio San Francisco Unhoused child wearing fingerless gloves hold a cardboard cutout of a home.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – The Bay Area's most populous county placed 20% more unhoused residents in permanent housing in the first half of this year than the last six months of 2021, according to new data published earlier this week.

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Destination: Home, a group working to end homelessness in Silicon Valley, said on Tuesday that Santa Clara County placed 1,852 people in permanent supportive housing through the end of June.

Officials said that was a 20% increase over the preceding six months, with the county now nearly 40% of the way toward its goal of placing 20,000 people in supportive housing by 2025. The programs have retained more than 96% of residents since 2020, according to the group.

Homelessness in Santa Clara County increased 3% from 2019, the last year in which officials estimated the unhoused population prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Santa Clara County counted 10,028 unhoused residents, 6,739 of whom were in the City of San Jose, as residents contended with some of the country’s highest housing costs.

The National Low Income Housing Colation’s 2022 report that the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area was the third-most expensive in the U.S., requiring a $55.15 hourly wage to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment. A study published in June determined that the average San Jose resident would need to work two full-time jobs in order to afford the city's median monthly rent.

As part of Santa Clara County's plan to end homelessness, officials launched a prevention system connecting residents at risk of homelessness to temporary financial assistance, legal support and other services. Officials said nearly 2,200 people have received these resources, with the goal of providing them to 2,500 people by the end of 2025.

Temporary shelter and housing capacity fell 34 beds to 2,193 in the first six months of 2022, but officials on Tuesday touted the increase in completed supportive housing units – or, those with "deeply affordable" rents that offer resources and services on site – and those under construction or set to be built.

Santa Clara County now has 1,151 completed units, compared to fewer than 250 in 2015. Another 817 are under construction, and 746 more will be.

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