Santa Clara County sees 95% success in helping residents avoid homelessness

For years, San Jose and Santa Clara County have struggled with helping and preventing homelessness. Thursday, government officials, along with nonprofit executives gathered to tout the success of the county’s Homelessness Prevention System, or HPS.

“A revolutionary program that’s actually had an impact on addressing homelessness by stemming the tide of homelessness in our community,” said Poncho Guevara, executive director of Sacred Heart Community Service. 

Since 2017, officials say the HPS has served 1,338 households in danger of slipping into homelessness.

“A lot of this is due to rising rents, wages not keeping pace with housing. The lack of affordable housing, and deeply affordable housing stock. Displacement, and gentrification,” said Jennifer Loving, Destination Home executive director.

The program offers immediate, direct, financial assistance to people and families that qualify. On average, a little more than $4,100 was given to each recipient, resulting in 95% of participants avoiding homelessness.

“This system is designed to be able to get money out the door in a matter of hours. And really be flexible as far as paying rent, or paying for childcare, or paying for an emergency medical need,” said Chad Bojorquez, a senior director at Destination Home. Added, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez, “There’s a gap. And that gap is something that as a community, I know we can fill, and really protect families in our community.”

Half the funding for the program comes from more than a dozen public and private funders, to the tune of $28 million. But that funding is running out. Measure E, which is on the ballot, would be an ongoing source of funding.

“One thing that is common with all crisis, they all come to an end. But this tax will not,” said councilmember Johnny Khamis. 

He opposes to Measure E, because he said it’s not dedicated to helping those in danger of homelessness…

“It could be used for paving streets. It could be used for pensions and salaries and any frivolous things we want,” said Khamis.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is confident a secure source of funding won’t be wasted, and will continue to have a positive impact on lives.

“This is something that works. We see it in the data. We see it in the faces of the residents that we are helping,” said Liccardo.

Voters may ultimately decide on Super Tuesday if this program to prevent homelessness is worth the financial stake.