SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — New figures show Santa Clara County’s unhoused population grew slightly over the last three years, according to the 2022 Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count.

The overall number of homeless individuals counted this year increased by 3% in Santa Clara County (to 10,028) and increased by 11% (to 6,739) in the city limits of San Jose. At the same time, the County is reporting it saw a decrease in homeless individuals living outdoors, with a 3% decrease throughout Santa Clara County and a 2% decrease in San Jose.

This follows a similar trend showing an increase in sheltered individuals in both San Jose and countywide, as jurisdictions across the community have expanded interim housing and temporary shelter options by 25% in the last three years.

“The fact that we did not see a major increase in homelessness in the past three years really speaks to the heroic efforts of our community to protect our lowest-income and most vulnerable residents during the pandemic,” said Miguel Márquez, J.D., Chief Operating Officer for the County of Santa Clara. “Still, there are more people falling into homelessness each year and we must continue investing in permanent supportive and other housing options for all members of our community.”

Courtesy: Santa Clara County.

The County said the preliminary data reflects deep investments made during the past several years to address the pandemic’s economic fallout, while at the same time tending to the fears of a worsening homelessness crisis.

Since 2020, the County’s supportive housing system has helped 6,890 people move from homelessness to stable housing and has prevented homelessness for thousands of households. In the five years since the 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond was passed by voters, Santa Clara County approved $588 million to build and renovate nearly 4,500 units in 41 housing developments across eight cities.

Income inequality

Despite the County’s efforts, the homelessness crisis continues to push residents onto the streets each year as more are on the brink of losing their homes. Reports reveal that the region suffers from the greatest income inequality in the nation. According to a 2021 analysis by the Brookings Institution, of the 53 largest metro areas in the U.S., Silicon Valley ranked #1 in prosperity but 46th and 50th in geographic inclusion and racial inclusion, respectively.

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The gap between rents and income grows larger every day. Renters in San José must now earn $54/hour ($111,680/year) to afford the average effective monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment. All this is accumulated by a significant shortage of affordable and available housing in the community — the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that there are only about 30 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low-income households.

Response

In an effort to end homelessness, the County, local cities, and community partners continue to adapt the Community Plan to End Homelessness plan — from creating more permanent housing to addressing the immediate needs of unsheltered neighbors.

The County said it has eleven projects in Measure A Affordable Housing Bond developments in the pipeline, with an additional 1,280 affordable apartments that are currently under construction. In addition, three local motels (Arena Hotel in San Jose, Crestview Hotel in Mountain View, and the Bella Vista Inn in Santa Clara) have been converted to create additional housing options for people currently experiencing homelessness.