The San Mateo County Human Services Agency and more than 300 volunteers canvassed the county in the early hours of Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, to collect data about people experiencing homelessness and to help assess how best to serve this population.
The Biennial One Day Homeless Count was conducted from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. that morning throughout San Mateo County. This effort provides a point-in-time snapshot of people experiencing homelessness. Data is compared with historical counts to show trends over time and the count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Volunteers consisting of community-based providers, members of the public, and County staff, assisted by community guides with current or former experience of homelessness, will travel by foot and car to conduct an observational count and surveys of people experiencing homelessness in the 160 census tracts throughout San Mateo County.
Board of Supervisors President Carole Groom and new County Manager Mike Callagy both say addressing homelessness remains a key priority.
“The County and its partners are committed to helping people connect with services and moving then into housing as quickly as possible,” Groom said. “Knowing who is at risk or currently experiencing homelessness helps us better strategize solutions.”
Callagy echoed that commitment.
“Each set of homeless circumstances are as unique as the individuals and families experiencing it. Meeting these members of our community in person and really understanding their needs helps County staff, our partners and our Board make better-informed decisions on how to best provide a safety net,” Callagy said.
An invaluable component of the One Day Homeless Count were surveys of individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. Volunteers collected the data via a mobile app (Connecting Us). The survey and count information will help the County and its partners assess how to best serve households experiencing homelessness.
Preliminary results are processed and analyzed then submitted to HUD, with a final report published in June.
“We are deeply committed to this population. By collecting strong data on the number, characteristics, and service needs of those experiencing homelessness in our community, this information will serve as a critical component for local planning and program development to assist them with returning to housing as quickly as possible,” HSA Director Nicole Pollack said.