The 2019 EveryOne Counts!, the biennial point-in-time count for Alameda County, found a total of 8,022 people experiencing homelessness countywide, including 1,710 sheltered and 6,312 unsheltered. This represents a dramatic overall increase of 43 percent compared to the last count in 2017, according to data reported by independent research company, ASR, and released May 16 by EveryOne Home. The full county report will be completed by the end of July and will include detailed information including jurisdictional and demographic breakdowns. The report will also contain an analysis of the survey responses of people experiencing homelessness. City reports for Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, and Hayward will be available at the end of August.

The topline, countywide numbers confirm the analysis of the EveryOne Home Plan to End Homelessness: Strategic Update 2018, that for every two people becoming homeless in Alameda County, only one returns to housing, and that the rate at which people are becoming homeless outpaces the ability to house them with existing resources.

EveryOne Counts! is a comprehensive count of the local population experiencing homelessness. Alameda County’s EveryOne Home worked in conjunction with Aspire Consulting LLC and Applied Survey Research (ASR) to conduct the EveryOne Counts! 2019 Homeless Count and Survey, using a methodology that provides a consistent measure of homelessness in Alameda County. The count includes information on individuals and families sleeping on the streets, in cars, in abandoned properties, or in other places not meant for human habitation, as well as those residing in emergency shelters and transitional housing.

Biennial point-in-time counts are conducted once every two years during the last 10 days of January by communities across the country and is the only source of nationwide data on sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. The count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in all jurisdictions receiving federal funding to provide housing and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Currently, Alameda County receives more than $37 million in HUD Continuum of Care (CoC) funding, a key source of funding for the county’s permanent housing and services for the homeless.

Point-in-time count data helps to inform communities’ local strategic planning and advocacy campaigns to prevent and end homelessness. The 2019 EveryOne Counts figure includes 1,710 people sheltered in emergency shelters and transitional housing and 6,312 people on the streets, in vehicles or staying in tents or encampments.

“These numbers are devastating and unacceptable. Everyone deserves the dignity of a safe, stable home, and yet this basic human need is going unfulfilled for thousands of people in Alameda County,” says Elaine de Coligny, Executive Director of EveryOne Home. “The homeless count confirms what everyday people in Alameda County already know: the number of people living on the streets of their own communities—seniors, disabled, young people, and families— continues to increase at an alarming rate.”

According to Supervisor Wilma Chan, “These numbers offer clear evidence that our housing crisis has become a homelessness crisis. Everyone is impacted by this problem, and Alameda County’s top priorities must be to prevent homelessness before it starts, and to provide housing and services for our most vulnerable residents.”

The EveryOne Home Plan to End Homelessness: 2018 Strategic Update, released by EveryOne Home in December 2018, identified the trajectory affirmed by the homeless count. Service providers assist approximately 1,500 people to return to permanent housing every year, yet there are 3,000 people becoming homeless for the first time. The rate at which people are becoming homeless outpaces the ability to house them with existing resources and, without significant changes, the homeless population will continue to grow by as many as 1,500 people per year.

The 2018 Strategic Update outlines that Alameda County spent $106 million addressing homelessness in FY 2107/2018. While that investment successfully housed a significant portion of the population falling into homelessness, in order to reverse the overall trend, the County needs to aggressively scale investment in strategies that prevent people from becoming homeless and expand affordable housing. The 2018 Strategic Update estimates that a total of $330 million per year would effectively end unsheltered homelessness, calling for an increase of $228 million.

While the 2018 Strategic Update supports short-term interventions—such as shelter, safe parking, outreach, and hygiene stations—it also states that increased investment in shelter alone will not reverse the trend. The only way to reverse the trend is to decrease the number of people becoming homeless by providing targeted homelessness prevention services and to increase the number of people becoming housed through increased investment in housing for extremely low-income people.

Doug Biggs, Executive Director of the Alameda Point Collaborative and the recent, voter-approved Alameda Center for Senior Housing and Medical Respite, says "Our friends, families, and neighbors are falling into homelessness at a shocking rate, and like the City of Alameda, communities across the county are stepping up to support solutions that work. While shelters solve the immediate need of somewhere to sleep, our communities really need to scale-up the strategies that directly address housing instability and provide permanent homes.”

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