Despite the improving nationwide economy, a new census report indicates the number of homeless people in Santa Cruz County is trending upward.
The 2013 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey, released on Wednesday, Oct. 23, shows that between 2011 and early 2013 the largest increase in homelessness occurred in the Live Oak area and the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
Results from the survey were to be discussed at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Simpkins Swim Center in Live Oak, 979 17t Ave., Santa Cruz. During the program the United Way of Santa Cruz County will provide an additional opportunity to review the results of the survey and community efforts to respond to homelessness in the county.
RELATED DOCUMENT: The Executive Summary of the Report (PDF)
Speakers, including Peter Connery of Applied Survey Research, Phil Kramer of 180/180, Shannon Healer of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, Kimberly Ferm of Pajaro Valley Shelter Services and Carolyn Coleman of Encompass will share the results of the study effort and answer questions.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required homeless census is sponsored by the Homeless Action Partnership (HAP), a collaboration of the County and cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Scotts Valley, and Capitola and is coordinated by the United Way of Santa Cruz County and conducted by Applied Survey Research of Watsonville.
“Santa Cruz County is joined by many counties across the nation seeing an increase in unsheltered homeless persons,” said Megan Joseph, Director of Community Organizing, United Way of Santa Cruz County.
Joseph added that the tough economy is among factors that have pushed homeless numbers higher in the county. “It is well known that homelessness is a lagging indicator of an economic recession and individuals from systems that are often underfunded such as foster care, mental health, and veterans’ services are now on our streets,” she said.
Joseph said the key to reversing the homeless trend lies within the community. “We must expand solutions that are working in our community and implement additional solutions we know can address our unique circumstances. We have a community-wide opportunity to come together to reverse this trend,” she said.
A thorough community-wide canvassing of the county was organized on Jan. 22, 2013 and a subsequent in-depth survey of the needs of 369 currently homeless persons was conducted to gather information required by HUD and needed by local service providers.
Data and Trend Highlights
- Homelessness increased to 3,536 persons in 2013 from 2,771 in 2011
- 82 percent of the population is unsheltered
- It is estimated that 72 percent of the homeless population were living in the County when they became homeless.
- The largest increase in homelessness occurred in the Live Oak area and the Cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
- 68 percent of the population experience at least one disabling condition.
- 21 percent of the population had some form of employment in 2011 compared to 15 percent in 2009.
- 11 percent of the population are veterans
- 37 percent are under 25 years old
- 15 percent are persons in families
- 989 are chronically homeless
For details about the census and United Way programs, call Megan Joseph at 831-465-2207.