San Jose sees 42 percent increase in homelessness since 2017

Bay Area

SAN JOSE (KRON) — A federally-mandated census of the homeless conducted a few months ago has revealed a sharp spike in the number of people living on and underneath the streets of San Jose.

The bi-annual census finds the number of homeless residents jumped from 4,350 in 2017 to 6,172.

That’s a shocking 42 percent increase, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

“This report is a call to action for us,” Liccardo said. “We have to think differently about our approach to homelessness and double down on those solutions that are working.”

The new count shows a 31 percent increase countywide where the numbers have gone from 7,394 to 9,706.

Since 2015, some 7,000 people have been moved off the streets and into permanent housing across Santa Clara County, but the efforts are not keeping pace.

“It’s the economic conditions,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Corteze. “We continue to grow jobs which is a good thing, jobs by the thousands but we’re just not creating affordable housing at that rate.”

There is an agreement that the lack of affordable housing is to blame.

That and the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude that persists with regard to shelters and other short term solutions, says homeless advocate pastor Scott Wagers.

“The more we keep passing the buck and just reacting out of emotion that the homeless are in everybody’s backyard and we just want to demonize them, it’s not working, the numbers are just too big now,” Wagers said.

“There is no question we need to do more,” Mayor Liccardo said. “We’ve got to do it faster and we’ve got to to this more urgently.”

The new numbers show that for every person who finds a way out of homelessness, there are two or three others who take his or her place.

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