Facts about homelessness in the Bay Area


Here are some facts about homelessness in the Bay Area:

● California has 3.5 million fewer homes than needed, according to a 2016 McKinsey Global Institute study. The average California home costs 2.5 times the national average while average California rent is 50 percent higher than the national average.

● In San Mateo County, 72 percent of extremely low-income households are severely rent-burdened and spend more than 50% of their income on rent.

● About 56% of the people experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area have lived in their county for 10 or more years, while 89% have lived in their current county for more than a year.

● The Bay Area's homeless population disproportionately consists of single, male minorities over the age of 25, a relatively high percentage of whom identify as LGBTQ.

● Between 2011 and 2017, permanent supportive housing defined as affordable housing help and support services provided without time limits increased in supply by 5% per year, but over the same period of time, the number of beds in emergency shelters declined 3% per year.

● The greatest need for housing is for very low-income housing, according to the report. From 1999 to 2014, the Bay Area permitted 61,000 fewer very low-income units than the "Regional Housing Needs Assessment" prescribed.

● Oakland's "cabin community" model, in which homeless people are provided temporary shelter in "Tuff Sheds," costs about $5,000 per bed as a startup cost, followed by operating costs of about $21,250 per bed annually. Since the program began about 15 months ago, about 55% of participants have been placed in permanent supportive housing, and many have found jobs.

● Lack of shelter impacts other public sector costs. San Francisco spent four times as much on street cleaning as Chicago in 2018, even though Chicago is four and a half times bigger by area and three and a half times bigger by population.

Source: "Bay Area Homelessness: A Regional View of a Regional Problem," April 2019, Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Related coverage:

Understanding the unsheltered among us

Kate Bradshaw

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