The number of people experiencing homelessness in Alameda County increased significantly in the last three years. Prior to that, from 2009 to 2017, the annual point in time (PIT) count, which captures the amount of people sleeping unsheltered in the county on any given day, remained about the same. The average during those years was about 4,200 individuals.
Along comes 2017, and that number bumped to 5,629. By 2019, the homeless census grew to 8,022.
In the Tri-Valley, Livermore’s homeless population is now significantly higher than its neighboring cities. The 2019 PIT count showed eight people experiencing homelessness in Dublin and 70 in Pleasanton. But Livermore had 264. While that figure is vastly overshadowed by Oakland (4,071) and Berkeley (1,108), Livermore is home to a larger homeless population than other such cities as Union City, Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, Piedmont and Newark.
Livermore Councilmember Robert Carling said he speaks frequently with homeless individuals who, more often than not, report they are from Livermore. He shut down the notion that homeless people are shuttled into the city and noted that, “these are people who lived here and were raised here, or they’ve left and they returned home, because they know the city and feel comfortable here.”
In working with the county, the City of Livermore will develop on CrossWinds Church property a small village of 31 tiny homes, which will serve as transitional housing for those suffering from homelessness.
Some might balk at the concept of providing housing to the homeless. All too often, people state that the homeless should be offered “a hand up, not a hand out” without offering any substantive suggestion on what that “hand up” should look like. Instead, they criticize the perceived “hand out.” The concept of transitional housing through a Housing First model might appear to be a hand out on the surface, but — as endorsed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness — it is indeed a hand up in the fight to end chronic homelessness.
With many veterans counted among the homeless population, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs notes, “The Housing First model prioritizes housing and then assists the veteran with access to health care and other supports that promote stable housing and improved quality of life.”
In the long run, transitional housing will help those who are homeless now begin to support themselves. By offering necessary services to those living without shelter in Livermore, they are given a second chance in life.
Alameda County, the City of Livermore and CrossWinds Church are to be commended for the work and funding put forth to address the growing homeless population. The promised services should continue for those who suffer from mental health issues or drug abuse, so they don’t lapse into their previous condition.
In the end, helping the homeless transition from sleeping on the streets to paying their own rent or mortgage will always be a hand up.