Belmont, CA – In the early morning hours of January 22, 2015, San Mateo County will participate in the National Homeless One Day Count by conducting a tract-by-tract count of homeless individuals, families and encampments. 

A biennial program of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), this effort provides a point-in-time snapshot of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals observed on the same winter’s morning throughout participating regions nationwide. Data is compared with historical counts to show trends over time and is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Organized by the County’s Human Services Agency, the knowledge gained by this effort is used locally to design homeless services through the San Mateo County HOPE (Housing Our People Effectively) Interagency Council, informs federally-required local plans, and helps the County’s Center on Homelessness direct resources according to the characteristics of homelessness revealed by the results.

Results of the Homeless One Day Count help us understand where and what services are needed, and how to most effectively allocate our resources to reduce homelessness in the County," stated Board President Carole Groom. On the day of the census, teams of volunteers led by a homeless guide, will fan out by foot and car to tally the number of homeless in their assigned census tracts. Results are processed and analyzed for validity, then submitted to the national database. The final report is typically published in May. In 2013, there were 2,281homeless people living in San Mateo County, up slightly from 2,149 in 2011 and increased significantly since 2009, when the County found 1,796 without shelter. In 2013, the greatest increase seen (83%) was among people living in cars (83%) and recreational vehicles (59%).

There was also good news in 2013.  The number of people observed living on the street dropped 24% from 2011 to 2013, thanks largely to outreach teams connecting street homeless to services, and an increase in funding to re-house more of those in shelters.

Volunteers participating in tomorrow’s Count include County Supervisor Don Horsley, Board staff, County employees, and members of the community-at-large.  “This is a wonderful opportunity to see how well we’re doing in addressing and reducing homelessness in our communities, and for insight into our planning. There’s a growing challenge of finding affordable housing in our county that’s available for low income families”, said Human Services Agency Director Iliana Rodriguez.

San Mateo County’s efforts surpass HUD’s mandates; next month, teams will return to the streets to conduct interviews with up to 250 willing participants from the county’s homeless population. The Agency will be looking for insight into current conditions around homelessness and will use that information to guide planning of County services and programs over the next 2 years.

Additional details and information on volunteering are available at https://hsa.smcgov.org/