San Mateo County Biennial Homeless Count Data Released
May 11, 2017
  • For Immediate Release                                                                                               

    Belmont, CA – Initial data from the 2017 San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count was released today by the Human Services Agency. The Executive Summary reports that a total of 1,253 homeless individuals were observed on the morning of January 26, 2017 as having spent the night on the streets, in vehicles, or in the county’s emergency shelters.  This represents a 16% decrease in overall homelessness from 2015 observations, with the exception of the number of homeless living in vehicles and RV’s, which rose 25% and 44% respectively.

    During this year’s bi-annual effort, 350 volunteers took tablets and clipboards to the streets to conduct an observational count of sheltered and unsheltered individuals and families as well as conduct surveys which provide insight into demographics, composition of household, duration and reason for entry into homelessness, and services needed. A requirement of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), the Homeless One Day Count provides a point-in-time snapshot of the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population observed nationwide. The knowledge gained by this effort informs federally-required local plans, and helps the County’s Center on Homelessness better serve our homeless and track progress over time.

    “The One Day Homeless Count is extremely valuable to us in taking an apples-to-apples look at our numbers across years, of a population that we work hard for each and every day. The reduction in our numbers across the board is great news for all of San Mateo County and is in credit to our partnerships in outreach, case management, sheltering, health services and housing, which would not be possible without the support of the Board and Measure K.”, said Human Services Agency Director Iliana Rodriguez.   

    The County and its partners are implementing strategies to reach a functional zero level of homelessness, which include a nationally-proven best practice of ‘housing first’, and a vision that, by 2020, homelessness in San Mateo County will be a rare, brief and one-time occurrence. The new system was designed with extensive community and provider input and optimizes our local conditions and resources.  The biennial count results are one resource among a variety of data sources the County uses to understand and assist our specific population.

    This year’s count shows 637 unsheltered homeless individuals living on streets, in vehicles, or in homeless encampments, compared to 775 in 2015, and 616 sheltered (homeless living in emergency shelters and transitional housing), as compared to 708 in 2015. A degree of the reduction in sheltered individuals is owed to a change in methodology that excludes those in a residential veteran mental health treatment program.

    The number of people observed to have spent the night on streets was 127, down 62% from 2015. The largest growth was seen in those living in cars (40 individuals) and RV’s (67 individuals) over 2015.  “It’s a positive sign that we have fewer people living on the streets, however it is astonishing to see that, while the county’s overall homeless numbers have decreased in all aspects, those living in RV’s and cars have increased. An RV is not a housing solution. We will ensure our efforts reach those that have been forced into these situations and help get them into more suitable housing.”, said Board President and District 3 Supervisor Don Horsley.

    The full report will be available in June 2017 and will include further delineations among the data collected and analysis of the survey responses. The County’s Plan to End Homelessness as well as the executive summary of the 2017 One Day Count results is posted on the HSA website:


    Media Contact

    Effie Milionis Verducci

    Communications Manager

    San Mateo County Human Services Agency

    W: 650.802.6433

    C: 510.384.3651