Homelessness in Contra Costa County: A Status Quo?

Thomas Smith

File photo of presumed homeless encampmentPhoto byGado Images

The annual count of people experiencing homelessness in Contra Costa County has revealed a somewhat sobering reality. According to the recently released report by the Health, Housing, and Homeless Services team (H3) of Contra Costa Health, the numbers are up slightly, with a four percent increase overall in 2023 compared to 2020. This data reflects an ongoing challenge that the county is facing, despite the efforts undertaken to address this issue.

H3, together with its community partners and more than 200 volunteers, conducted the annual survey known as the Point in Time count (PIT) on January 25, 2023. The PIT is a snapshot of homelessness in Contra Costa County, providing essential data on the number of people living in emergency shelters or outdoors. The count informs the strategies and services that Contra Costa Health (CCH) can provide to those experiencing homelessness.

The preliminary findings of the 2023 PIT count revealed that on the surveyed day, 2,372 individuals found themselves without housing. This figure includes 1,653 people who were unsheltered, marking a 4% rise from the 2,277 people counted in the 2020 PIT survey.

John Gioia, Chair of the County Board of Supervisors, remarked, "There's no one reason why people lose their housing. We are working hard on many fronts to create more housing opportunities with supportive services." These efforts include the investment of $12 million per year in a newly established Housing Trust Fund, and collaboration with other counties across the state to reform California's homeless system of care and link funding with accountability for outcomes.

Despite the slight increase in numbers, there have been notable strides in combating homelessness in the county. Since 2020, there has been a significant expansion in bed capacity, with an increase of over 560 beds. Moreover, the opening of Delta Landing, a crucial initiative under the state's Homekey program, has added much-needed services in East County.

"This year’s PIT count shows that homelessness rates in the county are relatively stable and similar to pre-pandemic numbers," said H3 director Christy Saxton. She attributes this consistency to the services provided to those experiencing homelessness. However, she also acknowledged, "there is more work to be done."

The full PIT report, due in June, will provide more detailed geographic and demographic data. Until then, we are left to ponder the state of homelessness in Contra Costa County. The recent findings indicate a persistent problem, but they also highlight the efforts made by the county and its partners to address homelessness. While the numbers remain consistent, they serve as a reminder of the urgent work still required to ensure that all Contra Costa residents have access to safe, secure housing.

To learn more about the services and resources available to those experiencing homelessness in Contra Costa County, visit the CCH website at cchealth.org/h3

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Award-winning entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Gado Images. Thomas writes, speaks and consults about artificial intelligence, privacy, food, photography, tech, and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a professional photographer, Thomas' photographic work regularly appears in publications worldwide. Pitches/news tips: tom@gadoimages.com

Lafayette, CA

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