Submission

Team

The increase of Stanislaus Counties Homeless Population over the last Three Years.
Title

The increase of Stanislaus Counties Homeless Population over the last Three Years.

Summary

The population of Stanislaus County residents experiencing Homelessness has increased in each of the last three years and in 2021 reaching a record high since Annual Count began in 2005. During the same period its estimated bed space at the local Shelters decreased as much as 48% leaving many more individuals out on the streets.

Team Information
Name Undecided
Category
Housing

About the Problem

Problem Category

Housing

Problem Context

In 2018 the Annual Count of the county’s homeless resulted in 1,356 people reporting experiencing being homeless. The following year, 2019, the count showed an increase of almost 600 people with 1,923 experiencing homelessness in the county. 2020’s Annual Count again increased with 2,107 people reporting they were homeless including 207 children, there was a 21% increase in people reporting sleeping in area shelters, a 25% increase in people in Transitional housing, while only 714 people were receiving assistance in the form of Food stamps. 80% of the total Homeless population reported becoming homeless living within the county. Reasons reported that a person became homeless were abuse or violence in the home, being asked to leave or kicked out, substance abuse issues, the inability to afford rent, illness, unemployment or the loss of an income, divorce, or the loss of a loved one. The 2021 PIT count showed another increase this time with 2,927 people reporting being homeless in the county and due to Covid-19 guidelines greatly limiting how to count was conducted, leaving out most if not all homeless considered “Unsheltered”, the actual total could be as much as 2 or 3 times higher.

How did you identify this problem?

The increase of each year’s Annual Count. Also, visually there are larger groups waiting outside local shelters hoping to get a bed for the night, more people using parking lots to sleep in vehicles, larger encampments becoming move visible around the area, an increase of individuals hanging around the Maxx bus station or other downtown areas.

Problem Details

Who are those affected by this problem?

Homelessness is a complex social issue with significant costs to the person homeless including increase risks to their wellbeing or safety, inability to access services needed, loss of family members or possessions, substance abuse, loss of family contact, inability to find/ keep employment, any number of health and safety issues related to sleeping outside.

How often does this problem occur?

At least one person, if not more, become homeless each day in both Stanislaus County as well as the entire state. One study reported for every one person that gained housing three people became homeless.

How long has the problem been going on?

Homelessness is in no new problem it has existed for many years, however events of recent years like the Covid Pandemic, higher housing costs or lack of any affordable housing, the increasing rate of unemployment in the area have contributed to the increased population of homeless.

Is the problem disrupting the community? How?

The community can be disrupted by this issue including the costs of to cleaning up what the homeless may leave behind in places they build encampments or sleep for the night, police or other emergency services using resources answering calls where often no crime was committed. Increasing the risk to community members of becoming victim to some form of crime committed by a homeless individual, increased E.R. or Hospital visits, increased number of people incarcerated in the county.

Is the issue perceived as a problem by the community at large?

Almost everyone in the Stanislaus County community considers Homelessness a problem, but also 94% of voters in California report that it is a serious or very serious issue showing this problem is widespread across the entire state. Also, in a poll posted on Nextdoor.com https://nextdoor.com/g/y119gzwdx/?is=nav_bar 71% of residents in the county that responded said it was a very serious issue.

Is the problem limited to certain geographic areas?

The majority of our counties homeless report living in Modesto or Turlock but with more people becoming homeless each year smaller cities within the county are starting to see an increase in the population around their neighborhoods. The State of California has one of, if not the largest, population of homeless individuals in the U.S. including the highest number of people who sleep outside.

Who are the Stakeholders, those wanting this problem to be fixed?

Everyone in the community from residents, business owners, local government officials, emergency response personnel, and especially the individuals who are homeless would all like to see this issue solved.

Addressing the Problem

Are you aware of any solutions, approaches, or efforts to tackle this problem?

In the county we have a few different programs attempting to help, there is the Stanislaus Homeless Alliance launched in 2019 to align services, planning, and funding among stakeholders. A Coordinated Entry system exists attempting to prioritize homeless people and help provide them with services that will actually help. In 2019 the counties Housing Authority purchased a motel and renovated it into permanent supportive housing known as Kanas House, there is also a Rapid Rehousing program that provides housing subsidies/services with the goal of helping people transition to self-sufficiency. There is also Emergency shelters in Modesto offering beds, meals, showers, and access to the Coordinated Entry System/other services. Other programs in the county are the Homeless Emergency Aid Program(HEAP) and what’s known as the Downtown Streets Team, a program designed to provide individuals skills to gain employment/housing. https://csocstan.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/7.14.21_DRAFT-VERSION-I-_-Stanislaus-2021-Regional-Plan-to-Address-Homelessness.pdf https://csocstan.com/regional-homeless-strategic-plan-for-stanislaus/

What are the obstacles you are aware of to address the problem?

Many Homeless find accessing or being eligible for the assistance difficult leading them to give up seeking help. The Counts conducted are often under representations of the true number of homeless causing the county to not receive enough funds or manpower required to effectively combat this problem.

What are the success criteria that could be defined to address this problem?

A decrease in the population of homeless individuals produced from the Annual Counts conducted as well as a visual decrease of encampments and people sleeping outside. The groups waiting outside area shelters getting smaller rather than larger. When all homeless individuals are sleeping inside a warm safe place.