As affordable housing vanishes, many jurisdictions are facing increasing homelessness Alameda County, California, saw a substantial increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness between 2015 and 2017, driven largely by an increase in the number of unsheltered people. Alameda County commissioned this report to provide insight into the state of homelessness in the county. It summarizes funding streams and programs, reviews best practices in counties with similar challenges, and provides recommendations on how Alameda could improve its response to homelessness.
Although Alameda County’s homelessness rate is lower than other large urban West Coast counties, it has a large and growing unsheltered homelessness problem with limited shelter beds and a lack of affordable housing. Although Alameda County has implemented promising practices to better serve people experiencing homelessness, we find practices from other places that the County could explore and employ. Our two major recommendations are that the County have a more visible and active role in setting a vision and coordinating policies and resources to end homelessness and that the County dramatically increase the supply of supportive housing.
The County has recently taken steps to improve coordination on homelessness issues, but these efforts are not guided by a larger vision of the County’s role in ending homelessness. In other communities that have made significant progress in addressing homelessness, there have been elected officials that have made the issue a priority, with staff who are empowered to make decisions about resources, policies, and priorities. In our recommendations section, we provide several options for how the County can create a similar structure in accordance with local needs. We also recommend that the County clarify roles and responsibilities in relation to city governments, EveryOne Home, and homeless service providers.
We recommend that the County pursue dedicated funding streams for rental subsidies and
supportive services in supportive housing, either by allocating existing funding sources like general funds or by raising funds through a new tax. While pursuing this, the County should commit to using a greater portion of its A1 Bond funding to develop supportive and affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness.