2020-2025 community plan to end homelessness builds on success of past five years and addresses the increased need caused by COVID-19 pandemic
According to the new Community Plan to End Homelessness: “Solving this crisis is one of the great moral challenges facing us. It will require tremendous effort, new partnerships, and even bolder strategies—and it will require the entire community to be a part of the solution.
“Every member of our community deserves a safe and stable home—and it is our collective responsibility to make this vision a reality.”
The plan builds on the collective efforts of the past five years, during which more than 14,000 people have been housed and the number of supportive housing units and temporary shelter beds have doubled. A new homelessness prevention system was also launched, now serving more than 1,000 households a year.
Yet, despite this progress, homelessness continues to grow. For every homeless family or individual connected to housing in the county, between two and three more are experiencing homelessness for the very first time. This is fueled by a number of systemic factors: the rising gap between the rich and the poor in our community, combined with the lack of affordable housing, particularly at the lowest income levels, and longstanding structural racial inequities. These challenges have been compounded by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, placing ever-more pressure on the nearly 10,000 individuals currently experiencing homelessness and the tens-of-thousands more at risk of falling into homelessness in the coming months and years.
“To truly end homelessness in Santa Clara County, we must summon the collective will and resources to not only respond to the current crisis and scale our successful housing strategies, but also address and eliminate the root causes of homelessness in our community,” concluded the 11 members of the Community Plan Steering Committee (listed below).
The Road Ahead: 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness
The 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness is grounded in evidence-based practices and lessons learned over the past five years, and built upon input from more than 8,000 community members, people with lived experience of homelessness, service providers, and advocates. The plan is centered on three core strategies:
Core Strategies to End Homelessness:
- Address the root causes of homelessness through system and policy change;
- Expand homelessness prevention and housing programs to meet the need; and
- Improve quality of life for unsheltered individuals and create healthy neighborhoods for all.
The 2020-2025 plan also sets aggressive targets designed to reverse the current growth in homelessness and bring us one step closer to our collective goal of eliminating homelessness in Santa Clara County.
By 2025, we will:
- House 20,000 people through the supportive housing system;
- Expand the Homelessness Prevention System and other early interventions to serve 2,500 people per year;
- Achieve a 30 percent reduction in annual inflow of people becoming homeless; and
- Double temporary housing and shelter capacity to reduce the number of people sleeping outside.
This plan also includes explicit goals and strategies to address the racial inequities present among our unhoused people and families and track progress toward reducing disparities. In fact, a report commissioned by Destination: Home – Race and Homelessness in Santa Clara County – found that people of color are dramatically more likely than their white counterparts to become homeless in Santa Clara County, and that poverty alone cannot explain disparities in homelessness.
Progress To-Date & Next Steps
Several important steps toward implementing the new Community Plan are already underway as part of the community’s response to COVID-19. For example:
- The County of Santa Clara, City of San José and Continuum of Care Partners have assisted those experiencing homelessness through the pandemic by connecting more than 1,920 households into congregate and non-congregate shelter, distributing over 50,000 pieces of PPE, and providing mobile shower and sanitation services for individuals living in encampments.
- While providing these emergency services, these partners have also helped connect 865 homeless individuals to permanent housing.
- The City of San José is building three emergency interim housing communities to shelter unhoused individuals and families during the pandemic; those three communities will also continue to provide temporary housing for over 300 homeless residents after the pandemic.
- In addition, Destination: Home and Sacred Heart Community Service have ramped up homelessness prevention assistance. Since the start of the pandemic, they have distributed more than $15 million in assistance to approximately 7,000 families in Santa Clara County through a partnership of 70 agencies, with a focus on extremely low-income households living on the brink of homelessness.
- Earlier this year, voters in San Jose approved Measure E, a real estate transfer tax increase that will generate millions of dollars annually to help fund new affordable housing development, homelessness prevention strategies and other critical needs.
The Continuum of Care will present the updated Community Plan to End Homelessness to local governmental bodies throughout the Fall, starting with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and San José City Council on August 25, 2020.
The Continuum of Care’s Lived Experience Advisory Board (LEAB) offered its endorsement of the plan at its July meeting:
“The Lived Experience Advisory Board is eager to be the first organization to officially endorse the 2020 – 2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness. Not only does it reflect our community-wide priority to develop housing for extremely low-income individuals and families, it contains everything we advocated for, including advancing racial equity, access to living-wage jobs, and increasing mental health and substance abuse services. We appreciate having a seat at the table, reflecting the growth of the community to include those with lived experience, whose voices have been traditionally silenced or excluded. We look forward to tracking the progress of the Plan’s stated goals, and being part of the solution wherever possible.”
Statements of Support
“This plan reinforces our need to build permanent housing for the lowest income levels – housing that otherwise won’t happen. And it points out the need to stop economically displaced families from becoming the newly homeless.” – Cindy Chavez, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors President
“The homelessness crisis in our region has been exacerbated by the pandemic and correlating recession, leaving thousands of families unhoused. While we continue to build more permanent supportive housing and interim shelter solutions in the immediate, by collaborating with partners at the County and in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, we’ve made vital steps forward– yet much work remains. The Community Plan to End Homelessness outlines a concrete path forward and will take all of our critically needed resources to accomplish.” – Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San José
“This is a sober and ambitious plan – exactly what we need to tackle the growing crisis in homelessness we see across our community.” – Bruce Ives, CEO of LifeMoves
“This plan can have a tremendous impact, if every city in the county seizes the opportunity to use this as a guiding light. Together, in partnership with our neighboring cities, the County and Destination:Home, we can incorporate this plan in all of our communities to create healthy neighborhoods for everyone.” – Rebecca Garcia, Housing Manager, City of Morgan Hill
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About the Santa Clara County Continuum of Care
The Santa Clara County Continuum of Care (CoC) is a broad group of stakeholders dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness in the county and who ensure a community-wide implementation of efforts as well as ensuring programmatic and systemic effectiveness.
The Community Plan process was led by a Steering Committee comprised of the following members from the CoC:
- Jennifer Loving, Destination: Home (co-chair)
- Ky Le (co-chair) and Miguel Márquez, County of Santa Clara
- Jacky Morales-Ferrand and Lee Wilcox, City of San José
- Katherine Harasz, Santa Clara County Housing Authority
- Louis Chicoine, Abode Services
- Erin Connor, Cisco
- Joel John Roberts, PATH
- Jan Bernstein Chargin (lived experience member)
- Claudine Sipili (lived experience member)