Santa Clara County boosts housing for homeless

Report finds unit count increases 20% in last year

Santa Clara boosts lodging for homeless residents
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

The county that includes San Jose found homes for 20 percent more homeless residents than last year, which leaves a need for more than 10,000 permanent homes.

Santa Clara County moved 1,852 unhoused people into permanent housing in the first half of this year, 20 percent more than the prior six months, the San Jose Mercury News reported, citing new data.

The number of homeless residents continues to grow faster than the supply of available homes.

The county has 10,028 homeless residents, up 3 percent from 2019 and more than any other county in the Bay Area, according to this year’s census. San Jose has 6,739 homeless residents, up 11 percent from 2019.

Two years ago, Santa Clara County set a goal of housing 20,000 people by 2025. So far, it has found homes for 7,853 residents, or 39 percent of its target.

Once people are placed in permanent housing, more than 96 percent stay for at least a year, according to Destination: Home, which provided the data and which works with the county and local nonprofits to fight homelessness.

Advocates credit the rise in housing to two voter-approved measures to fund construction of permanent housing. Measure A, passed in 2016, is a $950 million affordable housing bond. Measure E, passed in 2020, is a tax measure to fund affordable housing.

But the surge in funding is ending. Measure A money may be gone by next year. One-time emergency funds dished out during the pandemic are drying up.

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Santa Clara County is also short on shelters and temporary housing. It has 2,193 beds, or 58 percent of its 3,764-bed goal.

San Jose has built two tiny home sites and three sites with larger modular units. The city recently approved six new sites, but has received pushback at project locations.

Across the Bay, this year’s census found that Alameda County has 9,747 unhoused residents, a 22 percent increase from 2029, while Oakland had 5,055 homeless residents, a 24 percent jump.

A group of homeless plaintiffs won $250,000 from the city of Oakland after settling a lawsuit that accused officials of improperly evicting their East Oakland encampment, the Mercury News reported.

Oakland also agreed to give more notice to residents before clearing such camps, and to take bad weather into account before any removals.

The settlement follows a complaint filed in 2018 by unhoused residents living in an encampment at Edes and South Elmhurst avenues, which included families who didn’t feel safe in other camps. Residents of Housing and Dignity Village sued to stop the city from clearing the camp.

After a federal judge allowed the city to go through with the removal, six displaced residents amended the suit to accuse the city of improperly evicting them. They also accused the city of failing to provide other shelter options to meet residents’ needs.

— Dana Bartholomew

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