Important note: The following recommendation was approved by the Board of Supervisors on May 7, 2013 (amendments are attached below). How are we meeting our goals of transitioning chronically homeless individuals to shelter and housing? Check out our Performance Dashboard.

To:           Honorable Board of Supervisors

From:      John L.Maltbie, County Manager

Subject:  Measure A Report: Homelessness in San Mateo County


Direct staff to budget $1,500,000 in the FY 2013-14 through FY 2014-15 budgets to provide operating support to the East Palo Alto Homeless Shelter and to expand Homeless Outreach Teams


The countywide 2013 Homeless Census conducted the night of January 23rd counted 2,276 homeless people living in San Mateo County. That count includes 977 people that were in shelters that evening and almost 1,300 that were not sheltered. The count also showed a rise in the number of unsheltered homeless living in encampments and vehicles in the following communities: East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Half Moon Bay/Coastside, Pacifica, South San Francisco and San Bruno.

The following table illustrates the number of unsheltered homeless people in the communities that saw an increase in numbers in the 2013 homeless count and their percent share of the total unsheltered homeless population in the County.

Homeless One-Day treet/Unsheltered Count Data on January 23, 2013




Number of Unsheltered Homeless People

Percent of Total Unsheltered Count

East Palo Alto (94303)



Half Moon Bay/Coastside (94018,19,37,38)




Pacifica (94044)



Redwood City (94061,62,63,64,65)





Number of Unsheltered

Homeless People

Percent of Total

Unsheltered Count

San Bruno (94066)



South San Francisco (94080,83)



All Other Areas of the County






There are three homeless shelters in San Mateo County. Safe Harbor, located in South San Francisco, has 90 total beds, 30 emergency and 60 transitional. The Maple Street Shelter in Redwood City has 76 beds and the seasonal shelter in East Palo Alto has 40 beds. The East Palo Alto Shelter, operated since 2009 by Project WeHOPE, is closed half of the year, so there is no shelter facility for East Palo Alto from mid-April through mid-November. Fortunately, this year, additional funding has been secured to keep the East Palo Alto shelter open through June 30th. All the shelter beds in San Mateo County are generally occupied every evening. Thus, there is no excess capacity at any of the shelters and there are areas, specifically Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and other coastside communities that do not have any shelter programs.

The County provides operational funding support for all these shelter programs through the Human Services Agency. Safe Harbor and Maple Street do significant fund raising, so the County contribution is approximately 25% of their operating budgets. The County is one of the consistent on-going funders of the East Palo Alto Shelter, but WeHOPE plans to do fund raising for operations in the near future.

To reduce the need for shelter beds and the associated costs of chronic homelessness, the Human Services Agency began contracting with InnVision Shelter Network about three years ago to provide a Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) in Redwood City. The collaborative HOT program brings together community organizations, the Sheriff’s  Office, the local police department, the City Council, the County San Mateo County Health, Department of Housing, Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Services and local faith communities. The HOT program targets and provides services to individuals who have been living on the streets for at least five years, many of whom suffer from chronic conditions including substance abuse and other behavioural problems, and who require greater support and assistance than a typical temporary shelter can provide. The HOT program goal is to help chronic homeless individuals find and maintain a stable living situation. The County contract funds 1.5 FTEs for the HOT South Team (Redwood City, East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park).

Earlier this year, the Board took steps to help address the gap between the number of unsheltered homeless and the number of available shelter beds in the County. On April 9, 2013, the Board approved allocating up to 25% of the expected $13 million in Low-Moderate Income Housing Trust Funds (LMTF) the County will receive from the former redevelopment agencies to support the construction and/or renovation of emergency shelters in underserved communities. The balance of the LMTF monies will help fund housing projects meeting specific criteria in cities that lost RDA funding. Families and individuals that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are included in the LMTF fund target populations. The Department of Housing is developing the procedures for award of the LMTF money.


Measure A funding is recommended for two proposals to fill geographic gaps in homeless services: expanding the HOT program to the northern part of the County and Coastside and funding year round operation of the East Palo Alto Shelter for the next two years.

Homeless Outreach Expansion: $300,000 over two years

Staff recommends creating one new HOT program with two FTEs to serve North County and the Coastside and also adding 0.5 FTE to the existing HOT South County team. According to the 2013 count, about 40% of the unsheltered homeless reside on the coastside and in North County. The South County includes over 35% of the   unsheltered homeless. Together, the two HOT teams would serve the cities with the largest homeless populations in the County. The City of San Mateo has their own HOT program.

The requested funding would provide 2.5 FTEs, 2 for the new north team and an additional O.5 FTE for the existing team. The HOT staff is expected to serve a  combined total of 100 chronically homeless individuals per year, successfully   connecting 45 chronically homeless individuals with permanent housing solutions (either permanent housing of their own, or reunification with family members). The HOT expansion would be implemented through a contract with InnVision Shelter Network and planned in conjunction with local jurisdictions.

East Palo Alto Shelter Operating Support:  $1.2 million over two years

Staff recommends providing operating costs for a year-round emergency shelter (operating seven days a week, minimum of 4pm-8am each day) for up to 40 adults in East Palo Alto. The shelter could continue in the current location or be relocated.  Either way, County funding would be used to provide continuous year-round shelter services in East Palo Alto. It is recommended that funding be approved in the June budget for this project, so operation can continue through the summer of 2013.  Although the County would provide significant operating support for two years, it is anticipated that a combination of city contributions, grants, foundation support or funds from private donors will help cover future costs of the East Palo Alto shelter operations. Accordingly, the funding request is for $700,000 in FY 13/14 and $500,000 in FY 14/15.


Performance Measure


FY 2013-14


FY 2014-15


Homeless individuals on HOT list who successfully transition to permanent housing solutions (including reunification with family members)






Homeless individuals on HOT list successfully engaged in HOT Case Management (meeting at least once per week with a case manager)





Homeless individuals in East Palo Alto that are housed on a daily basis





It is recommended that $1,500,000 in Measure A funds be appropriated in the FY 2013- 14 through FY 2014-15 budgets for this proposal. The funds would be used to contract with service providers to staff two HOT teams and operate the East Palo Alto shelter, including support services and related facility costs.

Measure A Funds recommended in this Report


FY 2013/14

FY 2014/15

Homeless Outreach Teams



East Palo Alto Homeless Shelter

Operating Expenses












Important note: This is a copy of the official report to the Board -- item 10 on the Board's agenda.