As homelessness continues to plague California, recent data reveals a victory in San Jose as their homeless population sees a slight decline, yet challenges such as a drastic increase in homeless families remain daunting throughout the state. According to San Jose Spotlight, Santa Clara County’s point in time count observed a 4.7% decrease in homelessness within San Jose over the last year, with the number of homeless residents dropping by approximately 500 people, summing up to 6,340 individuals. This reduction has coincided with the opening of more affordable housing, temporary shelters, and efforts toward early prevention of homelessness, however it's important not to overlook the fact that other areas of California, such as San Francisco and Orange County, have been struggling with a rise in their homeless populations, as noted in an analysis by Public Policy Institute of California.
It's worth mentioning that this diminishing trend in homelessness has not been experienced evenly across the board; while unsheltered homelessness in San Jose has also decreased by 10.7%, the number of homeless families has seen a staggering 122% increase, with 891 families now out in the streets, as reported by KTVU. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan was quoted by ABC7 News, emphasizing, "we still have thousands of people living outside in San Jose" as he addressed the need for a multi-pronged approach in tackling the homelessness crisis not only in San Jose but also in the whole state of California.
Efforts to combat homelessness in San Jose remain essential as the city diligently pursues solutions such as opening new tiny home communities and implementing unhoused employment programs like San Jose Bridge. On the other hand, similar large cities across California continue to witness an enlarging homeless population, with the overall number of people experiencing homelessness increasing by about 6% since 2020, compared to just 0.4% in the rest of the country, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
Desperate for support, San Jose has recently experienced success in securing resources from the federal government, receiving $11.1 million in federal funding to combat rural and unsheltered homelessness. These funds will be used to help transition people from unsheltered settings to transitional housing, paving the way to permanent housing options. Additional assistance has come through private endeavors like the Heading Home campaign, launched in 2021 with the ambitious goal of ending family homelessness in Santa Clara County by 2025.
Despite these targeted efforts, San Jose's homelessness crisis remains far from resolved, with the overall reduction in homeless residents overshadowed by the rising number of homeless families. In the months to come, San Jose will need to maintain its momentum in implementing a multi-faceted approach to turn the tides in its battle against homelessness. To truly triumph, other Bay Area cities must also step up their efforts to alleviate this mounting crisis that isn't just faced by San Jose, but the entire state of California.