New report show Santa Clara County’s homeless population decreased, homeless families increased

A person experiencing homelessness stands in the rain in San Jose.

Santa Clara County’s latest homelessness count, released Tuesday, shows the number of unhoused individuals fell by 1.2% across the county and by 4.7% within San Jose city limits. However, that same count shows the number of families experiencing homelessness increased dramatically by 36.5% across Santa Clara County and a stunning 122.2% in San Jose. 

The latest count, known as the "point-in-time" count, includes both sheltered and unsheltered people and was conducted during a single 24-hour period earlier this year. The count is usually conducted on odd-numbered years, however, last year Santa Clara County conducted a PIT count after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the 2021 count.

The latest count found 9,903 people experiencing homelessness in Santa Clara County, compared to 10,028 in 2022. This year’s count also found an increase in the number of homeless individuals in shelters, 2,502, and a decrease in the number of unsheltered. However, the number of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness remains at a staggering 7,401.

"This year’s count shows that our investments in permanent housing, interim housing, and prevention are beginning to gain traction and the homelessness crisis appears to be stabilizing," said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, Director of the City of San Jose’s Housing Department. "While it is reassuring to see tangible evidence that our investments are moving us in the right direction, the count is also a reminder that thousands of people are still suffering on our streets."

Although there was a drop in overall homelessness, this year’s count found 1,226 families experiencing homelessness across Santa Clara County, up from 898 the previous year. San Jose found 891 families experiencing homelessness, an increase from 401 in 2022. The county said 80% of the homeless families were sheltered.


Homeless families in Santa Clara County struggling to find temporary housing

Unhoused Response Group distributed supplies Monday to people living along local creeks in San Jose. While many of the people they assisted were single and unhoused, emergency or temporary housing is limited for a lot of unhoused families.

In 2021, Santa Clara County, along with several private entities, launched Heading Home, a campaign to end family homelessness in Santa Clara County by 2025 by utilizing housing vouchers, rehousing families that lose their housing and working to build more affordable housing using taxpayer funds. Measure A, an affordable housing bond, passed in 2016 and since then nearly 4,500 new apartments have been or are currently being built, the county said.

Perhaps a reason for the increase in the number of sheltered individuals was the historically wet winter the Bay Area had, which made unsheltered conditions even worse and caused a delay for people seeking immediate shelter.

"I believe it’s like at least a three-week waiting list for families," Shaunn Cartwright, co-founder of Unhoused Response Group, told KTVU back in February

Santa Clara County recently received $11.1 million in federal funding to combat rural and unsheltered homelessness. The county said it would use to those funds to transition people from unsheltered settings to transitional housing and eventually to permanent housing.

This year’s count also found a 27.3% drop in the number of homeless veterans. 

The numbers released today by county officials is a preliminary count, the full report, including data for Santa Clara County’s other cities, will be released later this year.