The number of individuals living on the streets in San Mateo County has dropped by 47 percent since 2013, the Human Services Agency announced Tuesday.
The county conducted a homeless count in January and did not find any families with children without shelter, according to HSA.
There are also fewer homeless people living in shelters, according to HSA.
The numbers show approximately 689 unsheltered homeless individuals living on streets, in vehicles, or in homeless encampments, compared to 1,299 in 2013, according to HSA.
The count found 915 homeless living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, motels and institutions, compared to 982 in 2013.
About 10 percent of the total households, 124, are families with dependent children, according to HSA.
About 200 volunteers, including Supervisor Don Horsley, participated in the one-day count back in January.
The drop in numbers is encouraging, Horsley said.
The county’s emphasis on rapid rehousing may be a contributing factor to the drop as well as the area’s booming economy, he said.
“Once you get them housed they tend to stay housed,” Horsley said about the homeless.
The county’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the state at 3.5 percent, Horsley said. Although many of the added jobs in the county may be low paying, they are still helping people cover the rent, he said.
Part of the drop is due to the county’s emphasis on increasing the investment to end homelessness with Measure A funds, said Supervisor Dave Pine.
“The county has made great strides in reducing homelessness. It’s been a more focused effort,” Pine said.
He speculates too, however, that some of the drop may be attributed to people simply moving out of the county as it has become increasingly more expensive to find housing here.
A program of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, the count provides a point-in-time snapshot of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals observed on the same winter’s morning throughout participating regions nationwide.
The knowledge gained by the count helps to secure federal funding for initiatives to end homelessness.
HSA, along with the nonprofits it partners with, will prepare recommendations for future homelessness services and present them to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at a future meeting.
A final report on the one-day count will be prepared by May, according to HSA.
Pine is eager to see the final report to get a better idea of why the numbers have dropped.
In 2011, volunteers identified 2,149 homeless people living in San Mateo County. That number was up from 1,796 in 2009 and the greatest increase — 83 percent — was among people living in cars, recreational vehicles and encampments.
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