OAKLAND, Calif. - Homelessness is a growing problem in the Bay Area, and the proof is in the numbers.
Every other year, volunteers in cities and counties across the country take to the streets to conduct a comprehensive count of people experiencing homeless. The most recent count was done in January, and the results are staggering.
In San Francisco, the latest homeless count recorded more than 8,000 homeless people across the city, up 17 percent from 2017. Of that population, a majority are single men over the age of 25, living unsheltered. More than a quarter of the city’s homeless identified as LGBTQ+. When asked what led to their homelessness, the top responses were “lost job,” “alcohol or drug abuse” and “eviction.” A majority said the main obstacle for permanent housing is not being able to afford the rent.
Rent was also the main obstacle for the homeless in San Jose, where the latest census showed nearly 6,100 homeless people across the city, up 40 percent from 2017. When it comes to race and ethnicity, 41 percent responded white, while another 41 percent responded Latinx. When asked what led to their homelessness, the top responses were “lost job,” “alcohol or drug abuse” and a “divorce, separation or breakup.”
The latest Alameda County Homeless Count shows more than 4,100 in the city of Oakland, up almost 50 percent from 2017. More specific details about the city’s homeless population have not been released, but county numbers show nearly half the homeless people surveyed were black, and 14 percent identified as LGBTQ+. When asked what might have prevented their homelessness, the top responses were “rent assistance,” “benefits or income,” employment assistance” and mental health services.”
The results of these homeless counts are used by cities and counties to prove the need for federal and state funding.