Homeless population in Alameda County nears 10,000

Alameda County’s homeless population has grown 22% over the past three years and is approaching 10,000 people, according to official figures released Wednesday at one point.

The count made in February was the first since 2019 and was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Counts are generally carried out every two years.

Populations of sheltered and unsheltered people have increased since 2019. Seventy-five percent of the population has been on the streets for a year or more. Black people make up 43% of the homeless population, more than any other racial group.

“Many economic factors are driving our homelessness,” said Katie Haverly, acting executive director of EveryOne Home, a community-based organization that released official point-in-time count figures.

A resident must earn $44 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Alameda County, Haverly said. That’s almost three times the minimum wage, she said.

Haverly said a surprising result was the increase in the number of people living in vehicles. This number increased from 1,431 to 2,319, an increase of 62%.

Sixteen percent of the county’s homeless have lost their homes to COVID-19, according to the report. Sixty-eight percent had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

More than half of the county’s homeless population resides in Oakland. More than 3,300 people were not housed in the city while around 1,700 were accommodated.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said during her State of the City address to the Oakland City Council on Tuesday that the city has made progress in providing temporary shelter to homeless neighbors.

The number of homeless people housed has roughly doubled in the past three years, which may be due to funding provided by the state and federal government.

But like the county, the number of homeless people in Oakland has increased dramatically. The number increased by 24% to more than 5,000.

“The results of this point-in-time count further underscore the need to accelerate the racial equity goals, investments and strategies outlined in the Home Together plan to ensure the affordable housing, prevention and support services interventions needed to our community,” the report said.

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The Home Together Plan was released in 2020 and provides the next steps and investments needed to address homelessness in Alameda County.

Pandemic-related funding to address homelessness is disappearing, Haverly said. But more money is available. The county is seeking funding of up to $15 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The application for funding is due October 20.

Haverly said the county’s homeless population has grown steadily over the past six to eight years, and this year’s tally isn’t as bad as expected.

“I think we expected a bigger increase,” she said.

The official 2022 Point-in-Time tally can be found at: https://everyonehome.org/