New data released this week shows signs of progress since the adoption of the 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness, with thousands of people permanently housed and our growing prevention efforts working.
This is not a victory lap. Homelessness remains a devastating humanitarian crisis in our community – more visible now than ever. But the work our community is investing in – building new deeply affordable housing & expanding prevention efforts – is having a lasting impact in breaking cycles of homelessness.
Progress on 2020-2025 Community Plan Goals
- Nearly 6,000 people are no longer homeless and are now in permanent housing in Santa Clara County since January 2020.
- More than 96% of people connected to permanent supportive housing have remained in their homes for more than a year, in another sign of a successful Housing First strategy.
- Year-round temporary shelter capacity increased by almost 20% to 2,227 beds.
- And we’ve seen a reduction in the number of people falling into homelessness in the last two years, measuring a 33% decrease since January 2020.
The Work That’s Ending Homelessness
Our Supportive Housing System has made significant headway in several coordinated efforts to reverse growing rates of homelessness.
Permanent housing production continues to ramp up, with 830 new homes in nine developments funded by the Measure A affordable housing bond now open to 1,640 formerly homeless and low-income residents.
Eleven more projects with a combined 1,280 affordable homes, are currently under construction with seven new complexes scheduled to open this year. And funding for six additional developments was just approved by the County’s Board of Supervisors, adding 758 new homes to the Measure A pipeline now totaling 4,441 units.
The Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System has also grown to prevent homelessness for more than 2,000 households a year, moving toward the Community Plan goal of serving 2,500 households per year by 2025.
91% of these households remained stably housed for at least two years, with the average household requiring just about $5,000 in assistance. This system also laid the foundation to quickly and equitably deploy special COVID-19 financial and rental assistance to nearly 20,000 additional households in-need to avoid eviction and prevent a massive increase in homelessness during the pandemic.
Watch the Briefing on the Community Plan
On March 4, 2022, Destination: Home gathered with local leaders on the front lines of our efforts to end homelessness in Silicon Valley to discuss progress on the Community Plan to End Homelessness.
Our Work is Far From Done
While we’re seeing promising signs of progress, too many people are still experiencing homelessness in Santa Clara County.
The rate of people becoming homeless has slowed, but it still exceeds how quickly individuals are permanently housed. For every 2 homeless individuals connected to housing, 3 are experiencing homelessness for the first time.
Remember, the rates of homelessness we’re witnessing today are decades in the making – caused by a severe lack of home building and wage stagnation for our lowest-income workers – and they’re felt disproportionately by people of color. We must continue to attack the systemic issues at the root of homelessness to end this crisis.
There are challenges ahead, and we need far more funding for affordable housing development and rental assistance from the Federal, State and local governments.
For example, despite thousands of families demonstrating a need for rental assistance, which could prevent homelessness, Santa Clara County has only seen a baseline funding increase of 4% in the last 20 years. The Federal Government only funds 25% of the national need for affordable housing and rental assistance – which could change if the Build Back Better Act were passed. Voice your support for historic housing investments.
Additional forces, such as local NIMBY opposition and burdensome approval processes, are substantially increasing how long it takes to build new housing – further impacting our ability to connect homeless residents to housing. These forces not only delay and add costs to new housing developments, they have also prevented some from going forward. For example, a recent Homekey project in Santa Clara that would have moved families with children off the streets in less than a year was voted down due to neighborhood resistance.
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The Work Ahead to End and Prevent Homelessness
The Santa Clara County Supportive Housing System remains focused on creating new permanent housing opportunities throughout the community, while continuing to meet the immediate needs of the currently unsheltered, and increase the capacity of successful prevention efforts that are addressing potential experiences of homelessness before they begin.
Heading Home, a new effort to end family homelessness is now underway, with the goal to house 1,200 homeless families this year and another 600 annually going forward. In addition to the 830 new homes now open thanks to local Measure A funding, more than 650 are nearing completion and expected to open this year. And local leaders have rallied to seize the unique State-funded Homekey program to quickly produce 8 proposals for interim and permanent housing with the potential to create more than 700 additional units this year.
We all have a role here–collaboration across our community is at the heart of lasting progress on long-term solutions. There’s no silver bullet to ending homelessness and we must remain open to wielding every tool in the toolkit.