SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Today, Destination: Home and the County of Santa Clara released the largest and most comprehensive study assembled in the United States to understand the true cost of homelessness in Santa Clara County. The report titled “Home Not Found,” analyzed nearly 25 million public records to identify the annual cost of homelessness in this community. Additionally, the report outlined the cost of services provided to more than 100,000 county residents wrestling with long and short term homelessness. The report was released today at a gathering of civic and community leaders at the Le Petit Trianon Theatre in San Jose.
The study found that more than $3 billion of County services were used by 104,206 homeless residents between 2007 and 2012. This equated to a cost averaging $520 million per year. Medical diagnoses and the associated health care services were the largest component of homeless residents’ overall public costs. The second largest component of the overall cost of homelessness was associated with justice system involvement. The community in Santa Clara County has a significant opportunity to invest in preventative services that better serve the population and provide long term solutions to the homeless population.
“The findings of this report echo our observations during Destination: Homes’ work with the Housing 1000 program. Eighty-one percent of people housed through this program remain housed today. The public cost associated with each of these residents pre-housing was $62,473, and $19,767 estimated post-housing,” said Jennifer Loving, Executive Director of Destination: Home. “Therefore, the estimated annual cost reduction for those who remained housed was $42,706. Housing First programs work; we know this from our own experiences.”
Additional key findings in the “Home Not Found” report include:
In a given year, there are about 2,800 persistently homeless residents in Santa Clara County. Each of these residents uses about $83,000 per year in county and community services. The top 10 percent of the homeless population accounts for 61 percent of costs associated with services for homeless residents.
Many individuals are able to find housing after only short episodes of homelessness. Out of the population that experienced homelessness between 2007 and 2012, about 20 percent of the population was unhoused for only one month. Another 32 percent were homeless for two to six months. This shows that for half of the homeless population, homelessness is not a long-term way of life. The population is tremendously resilient and many are able to resolve homelessness with minimal intervention.
The rate of persistent homelessness is higher among women than men in Santa Clara County. Seventeen percent of women versus 14 percent of men were recorded as persistently homeless in an average month. This is much higher than national estimates. It is important to integrate this finding into the larger community conversation about homelessness in Santa Clara County so that the causes can be better understood. This trend needs to be explored further.
“The numbers are absolutely staggering – homeless residents used more than $3 billion of emergency and public services over a six year period,” says County Supervisor Mike Wasserman. “It’s clear that focusing on housing better utilizes taxpayer money and has the potential to transform lives. It is much more effective and less costly to provide supportive housing to the highest users, which is what I have been advocating.”
“The Home Not Found Report helps us better understand the population we are trying to serve so that we can help them to re-enter long-term, stabilized housing,” added Loving. “For too long, we’ve experienced the cost of these services without fully understanding the impact on our community. This study makes the impact clear, so we can better care for those in need and use our resources in the most efficient way possible."
Today’s report identifies solutions available to the community to better serve and reduce our homeless population. With the combination of diverse data streams and nearly 25 million health, public safety, and other records, the report analyzed the population that experienced homelessness in Santa Clara County between 2007 and 2012. The study was compiled by the Economic Roundtable, a non-profit, public benefit corporation that conducts applied economic, social and environmental research that contributes to the sustainability of individuals and communities.
“This is the most comprehensive body of data and analysis in the United States,” said Dan Flaming, president of Economic Roundtable. “We linked records across all justice system, health care, social services, nonprofit and housing agencies, including information from each service provider. Analysis across these different agencies provided unprecedented information to better serve the homeless population in Santa Clara County.”
This data provides the foundation for a community dialogue to continue to work to end homelessness. Strategies our community can consider are as follows:
Investing in and targeting resources to keep people housed and prevent them from falling into long term homelessness, which is often costly and difficult to escape. These types of programs ensure that a family does not become homeless because they cannot make a rent payment, that young adults do not exit foster care without a home, and that every veteran transitioning out of the military has a place to return to
The data from the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program, demonstrated that 93 percent of participating families across the nation remained housed after the program ended. If we invest in short-term shallow housing subsidies, resiliency will grow, and resources can be diverted to those who are in crisis and require a deeper investment.
Those who suffer the most require the deepest levels of support. For disabled and long term homeless men and women, stable housing is the foundation of recovery. Santa Clara County can dedicate ourselves to increasing the supply of housing and creating new housing opportunities to alleviate this worst kind of suffering.
“There is an unprecedented technological innovation happening in Silicon Valley which is enabling organizations to analyze large volumes of data to make better decisions,” said Ben Spero, Board Chair for Destination: Home and Managing Director at Spectrum Equity. “Now, we can do the same to work to help end homelessness, here in our own backyard."
About Destination: Home
Destination: Home, a program of The Health Trust, is a public-private partnership implementing collective impact strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County. Destination: Home drives and aligns resources to create permanent housing and sustainable support systems built for the long term. The organization is improving how systems work together to end homelessness, as well as protect individuals and families at risk of becoming homeless. In this role, Destination: Home’s Board also serves as the HUD Continuum of Care Board for the San Jose /Santa Clara City and County Metropolitan area and works with the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing as a Collaborative Applicant to expand local allocations of federal funding.
Posted: May 26, 2015