Project Homeless Connect. Photo provided.
Project Homeless Connect. Photo provided.

This article was contributed by San Benito County Community Services and Workforce Development.

Housing and Urban Development requires that every Consortium of Care conduct an annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count as well as a census count every two years. The results have now been released. By regulation, the 2019 count used the definition used by the HUD, which includes persons living in shelters and places not meant for human habitation, but excludes persons who are living doubled up with others due to economic hardship.

The San Benito County 2019 Census, a community-wide effort, was conducted on Jan. 31 with staff from the Health and Human Services Agency, Community Services and Workforce Development,  Community Action Board and approximately 24 volunteers. The number of individuals counted in the general street and shelter count was 283. Compared to 2017 this amount shows a significant decrease in the number of homeless when 527 homeless individuals were counted.

“A few factors of the decline in numbers can be attributed to the services provided by CSWD, Whole Person Care staff, Community Homeless Solutions and by community partners to include homeless/housing support,” said Enrique Arreola, deputy director of community services and workforce development. “However, we also must consider that around the time of the point in time homeless census, it rained a lot which could have influenced homeless individuals to move to other hidden locations.”

Since Jan. 1, 2017 through Sept. 9, 2019, the County CSWD has been successful in providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and families including:

Helping Hands Permanent Supportive Housing Program is considered a permanent housing program for chronically homeless individuals and families with disabilities. (Disability/Medical diagnoses must be supported by documentation certified physician or therapist) (11 families/individuals for a total of 22 served)

Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids (HOPWA) HOPWA funds can be used to provide direct assistance to low-income households who need help paying their rent, supportive services. (Seven individuals/families)

Emergency Solutions Grant Rapid Rehousing relocation and stabilization services and/or short-and/or medium-term rental assistance as necessary to help homeless individuals or families (living in shelters or in places not meant for human habitation) move as quickly as possible into permanent housing and achieve stability. (28 families housed, 45 total individuals)

HOME Tenant Based Rental Assistance: HOME funds can be used to provide direct assistance to low-income households who need help paying their rent. HOME funded Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) is a rental subsidy that helps make up the difference between what a renter can afford to pay and the actual rent for a home. Low-income households can receive HOME TBRA to help pay rent, utility costs, security deposits, and utility deposits. (17 families housed, 27 total individuals)

HOME Resource Center is the county’s first year-round shelter for chronic homeless individuals. Sixty guests from the shelter have obtained housing.

CalWORKs Housing Support Program: Clients Must be enrolled in CalWorks. Program provides homeless families with permanent housing. Eighteen families found permanent housing. (38 household members)

Winter Shelter Program provides emergency shelter during the cold winter months for homeless families. Housed were 50 adults, youth 13 ages 14-18, 50, age 6-13 and 27 age 0-5. Forty-three homeless families housed since 2017 in our family winter shelter (2018/19-23 families were housed—of them eight found permanent housing. 2017/18- 20 families were housed—of them nine found permanent housing.)

Hotel Voucher for up to three days. Priority is given to families, homeless recently released from the hospital who need additional recuperation. (Homeless individuals will be referred to the shelter first. If there is no room at the shelter, voucher is issued on case-by-case bases dependent on need and availability, 128 hotel vouchers have been issued, 177 total individuals served.)