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In early 2019, Santa Clara County conducted a biennial Point-in-Time Count to estimate the prevalence of homelessness throughout the region. During this most recent count, it was determined that there are approximately 9,706 individuals experiencing homelessness on any given night in Santa Clara County, an increase of 31% from the 2017 count. As part of this count, a survey was administered to 1,335 un-sheltered and sheltered individuals that increases our understanding of the diverse needs and experiences of homeless residents. The survey asks respondents where they lived prior to becoming homeless.
Within this population, 17% have lived in Santa Clara County for 1-4 years, 12% for 4-9 years and 57% for 10 years or more. Long-term residents often have important social networks and connections that keep them in the region despite struggling to secure an affordable home. Creating affordable homes allow members of our community to remain near the people and places they value.
Rents continue to rise, and there continues to be a significant shortage of housing developed that is affordable to extremely low and very low income households.
The primary events that lead people to end up without housing are incredibly diverse within the population, including job loss, alcohol or drug use, divorce or separation, eviction, argument with a family member, and incarceration. And, the majority of our homeless neighbors share some prior connection to the region and the community. Given the choice, 89% of respondents expressed willingness to move into permanent housing if it became available. Understanding where individuals lived prior to entering homelessness helps inform the types of solutions we pursue. Increasing the affordable housing that is available and preventing displacement from existing homes, allows individuals to remain in the communities that they call home; near resources, families, and friends that they value.
A household experiencing homelessness for the first time does not necessarily require the same long term services and support as a chronically homeless individual. Shorter term mechanisms, such as transitional housing, often creates the stability needed to save for a security deposit, pay off debts, and secure long-term housing.