Facts about homelessness in the Bay Area | April 17, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Cover Story - April 17, 2019

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.

— By Kate Bradshaw


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay up to date on local coronavirus coverage with our daily news digest email.



The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details