One Day Count Shows Rise in Homeless Population

One day count in San Mateo County show rise in homeless population

in Community

The “point in time” count conducted in San Mateo County on Feb. 24 found 1,092 unsheltered individuals, a 21 percent increase from the 2019 one-day count, and 716 people living in group shelters and hotels converted to interim housing, a 17 percent increase from the 2019 count, County officials said.

Teams of community members fanned out across San Mateo County on Feb. 24 to find and count unsheltered individuals. Also counted were people in shelters and interim housing.

While the numbers of people experiencing homelessness have apparently increased since before the pandemic, County Manager Mike Callagy noted how an ongoing, collaborative movement to end homelessness in the County is also augmenting.

A significant part of that effort came in the recent groundbreaking of a 240-unit Navigation Center east of Highway 101 in Redwood City, which will replace the Maple Street Shelter that supports about 110 individuals each night. Set to be completed by the end of the year, the Navigation Center will have extensive wraparound services and will be unique in that individuals with have private sleeping quarters, with 20 units accommodating couples, the County said.

In addition, the County has purchased five former motels/hotels to convert into interim or permanent housing, including Shores Landing in Redwood City (95 units); the former Comfort Inn and Suites in Redwood City (51 units); Coast House in Half Moon Bay (51 units); and Pacific Shelter in Redwood City (74 units).

“Two hotels, Coast House and Pacific Shelter currently provide transitional housing and a third, Stone Villa will be ready for transitional housing residents in the fall,” the County said. “Formerly homeless seniors now have permanent homes at Shores Landing and the Comfort Inn will welcome permanent residents later this year.”

The County aims to achieve “functional zero” homelessness, which means every county resident experiencing homelessness, who chooses assistance, can stay in a shelter or temporary or permanent housing. Functional zero “also means that outreach staff will continue to engage with those who are not currently interested in accessing services,” the County said.

“We are putting together the resources and supports necessary to create a clear path from homelessness to permanent housing, with significant new shelter resources that have been opened recently and additional ones coming in a matter of months,” Callagy said.

Ken Cole, director of the County’s Human Services Agency, added, “While the numbers went up, we believe the situation could be much worse without the supports we have put in place due to the impacts of the pandemic.”

“The past few years have been incredibly tough on so many individuals and families,” Cole said. “They deserve our compassion and, more than that, our promise that we will do everything within our power to ensure that every person experiencing homelessness can enter shelter and work towards finding a permanent home.”

Today, Callagy participated in the second in a series of events titled “2022: Our Year of Working Together to End Homelessness.” The ongoing series aims to engage the community in developing solutions to homelessness.

The next event in the series, “Moving into a Permanent Home,” will be held on Friday, June 3, at 10 a.m. and will focus on the challenges of developing permanent affordable housing. The event will conclude with a “fireside chat” with formerly homeless residents.

Photo: Teams study maps and other information as they prepare to deploy from a Half Moon Bay site for the February 2022 one-day count (Courtesy of San Mateo County)