April 18, 2024
  • Redwood City – Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced the County will receive $14.1 million to jump-start a plan to provide housing and services for people now living in small encampments scattered from South San Francisco to Menlo Park.

    The grant, coupled with local and other funds, will help move individuals into permanent, supportive housing and temporary housing. Behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, medical care and case-management services will be among the assistance available.

    “This grant we received today is expected to serve hundreds of our most complex unsheltered individuals living across 26 encampments, some of these as big as 15 people living under bridges, under streams and along highways. We’re determined to get these people housed,” Mike Callagy, the County’s chief executive, said during a virtual news conference hosted by the Governor’s Office.

    “Many of these people living in tents and cardboard boxes – just think about what they went through during the recent storms,” Callagy said. “They are some of the most vulnerable people we have in this community and this grant will help us address those individuals.”

    With the aid of the grant, the County and partners will focus on approximately 200-plus individuals now living along transportation corridors that include Highway 1 on the coast, the Highways 92 and 101, El Camino Real, Interstates 280 and 380 and others.

    These are mainly the refuge of what County officials call chronically homeless – that is they have been homeless for more than one year (or repeatedly) while also experiencing a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder and possibly a physical disability.

    Key to success will be “sustained engagement” – that is substantial efforts by outreach workers to demonstrate the positive outcomes of moving into housing or a shelter. This will involve “light-touch and intensive services” while “accepting (shelter) will be a choice,” according to the County’s grant application.

    The County’s grant was among $192 million in homelessness assistance for cities and counties announced by the Governor’s Office. The $14.1 million is the full amount the County sought.

    “People want to see these tents and encampments removed but they want to see them removed in a compassionate and thoughtful way,” Newsom said. “This is a program that works.”

    Warren Slocum, president of the Board of Supervisors, said, “We applaud Gov. Newsom for his partnership and support in addressing homelessness. This is the kind of action we know is necessary and will ultimately help end homelessness in San Mateo County.”

    “Homelessness is a crisis that has been decades in the making,” Slocum said. “It’s not a crisis that we can take decades to remedy.”

    The immediate goal will be to “bring more services into the field than ever before,” according to the County’s grant application. This includes teams of outreach workers – many with experience as living with homelessness – to meet with people where they are.

    Among the strategies: drop a requirement that individuals and families in encampments seeking assistance must go to one of eight Core Service Agencies to apply for homeless services and housing.

    The outreach aligns with the County’s collective goal of achieving “functional zero” for unsheltered homelessness. That means ensuring that every county resident experiencing homelessness can be safely sheltered in an emergency shelter, or in temporary or permanent housing.

    Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the County has added 146 permanent supportive housing units and 409 individual units.

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