The County further extended its approach to reducing homelessness, standing up a new department dedicated to the challenge and helping guide regionwide efforts in coordination with cities and community partners.
The Office of Homeless Solutions will serve as the County lead for developing policy and ensuring data drives equitable practices. Entering the new fiscal year, the office added 13 outreach staff and 17 social workers. The expanded team will create a robust network of direct outreach, street case management services and system integration.
Their efforts build on lessons learned over time and most recently during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. People experiencing homelessness were among those protected by County Public Health hotel rooms, which provided a safe place to isolate, quarantine, recover or prevent COVID-19. Since March 2020, Homeless Outreach Teams have partnered with public health nurses to hand out 35,195 COVID-19 prevention hygiene kits and provide information about testing and vaccination opportunities. In March 2021, outreach teams and nurses worked countywide to vaccinate those experiencing homelessness in hardest to reach areas. Foot teams vaccinated more than 1,000 people in encampments.
The Sheriff’s Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) increased its outreach efforts, using a “resources first” approach to connect unsheltered people in the unincorporated area to community services.
the coming years, $85 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds will
support services for those who are homeless. Youth, veterans and
people with behavioral and physical health needs are among those who
will be helped. Additional state funding will support staffing for the
Housing and Disability Advocacy and the Homeless Housing, Assistance
and Prevention programs, providing case management, outreach and
expanded services for youth and high-need individuals.
Going forward, the County’s zoning ordinance is being revised to provide more potential infrastructure in the unincorporated area to help people experiencing homelessness. The revisions streamline the process of setting up emergency housing options and supportive services in partnership with community organizations.
COVID-19 Vaccines Given by Homeless Outreach Team
Hygiene Kits Distributed
*Since March 2020