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August 9, 2011 > Slight decrease in number of homeless in county

Slight decrease in number of homeless in county

Unemployment continued to be cited as main cause of homelessness

Submitted By Robert Dolci and Jessica Scheiner

According to a report released the week beginning July 25, 2011, by Santa Clara County, on any given day 7,045 persons are homeless in the county compared to the 7,086 homeless individuals counted in 2009. However, as the economy continues to struggle, it is likely there will be an increase in the estimated number of residents who will become homeless at some point during 2011, even if only briefly.

Additionally, the number of long-term homeless (persons with many or long episodes of homelessness) increased from 2,270 in 2009 to 2,520 this year.

The biennial county-wide homeless census and survey was conducted by Santa Clara County in collaboration with the county's 15 cities and public and private partners. The census and survey are conducted to better understand the situation of the county's homeless residents and develop informed strategies to end homelessness. The Housing 1000 Campaign, for instance, seeks to identify the most vulnerable homeless individuals and help them secure permanent, supportive housing.

As the largest city in the county, San Jose has 57.3 percent of the county's homeless population. The cities of Gilroy, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have the second (7.0 percent), third (5.3 percent), and fourth (5.6 percent) highest numbers of homeless residents, respectively.

During the nights of the census, 1,876 of the county's homeless persons were in a shelter or transitional housing. The most frequent reasons cited by those surveyed for not being sheltered was bed limitations at shelters (55 percent), alcohol/drug problems (18 percent), an inability to follow shelter rules (13 percent) and the absence of identification (8 percent). Approximately 40 percent of the 5,169 persons without shelter live on the street. The remainder live in cars, vans, RVs, motels, or buildings and facilities not meant for human habitation.

To obtain a better understanding of the characteristics of the county's homeless residents, 1,014 were interviewed between January 27, 2011 and March 26, 2011.

According to the survey results, the most frequent reason cited for persons becoming homeless was unemployment (27 percent) compared with 30 percent in 2009. Approximately 11 percent of those surveyed were currently employed - 9 percent were employed full-time and 2 percent were employed part-time. Thirty-nine percent (39 percent) of those surveyed cited the absence of a permanent address as an obstacle to securing employment, while 36 percent cited the need for employment training.

The report estimates that on any given night, Santa Clara County has a homeless veteran population of 667 persons, or 10 percent of the total nightly homeless count. This is a significant decrease from the 866 homeless veterans estimate in 2009.

Finally, the report indicates that on any given night, 874 persons in families are homeless in the county - a decrease of 14 percent since 2009.

A full copy of the "2011 Santa Clara County Homeless Census and Survey" can be found at under "Hot Items."

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