Alameda County's Homeless Population Climbs Dramatically Over Two Years

Friday, May 26, 2017
Devin Katayama

Alameda County’s homeless population grew by 39 percent over the past two years, according to biennial data released Thursday.

The estimated number of people on streets and in shelters in 2015 was 4,040, and now it’s up to 5,629. Part of the increase is because Alameda County changed the way it conducts the count, which led to more accurate numbers. But officials are mainly pointing fingers at high rents and the lack of affordable housing. It’s a problem that needs short- and long-term solutions, they say.

“We know that housing is what will end homelessness, but in the meantime we’ve got people living on the streets now,” said Elaine de Coligny, executive director of EveryOne Home, which conducts the county’s homeless count.

Some Takeaways From the Survey

The homeless count is conducted every two years on a night in late January. For the count on Jan. 30, 2017, Alameda County used 345 volunteers and paid 99 currently or recently homeless people to help volunteers walk individual census tracts, which allowed the county to cover more ground and get a more accurate count, de Coligny said.

Four cities — Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward and Fremont — will receive more personalized reports soon that detail specifics for their respective cities. The county data released Thursday will be followed by a more comprehensive report in the summer. But here are some takeaways from the report:

  • There were 4,040 homeless people counted in 2015. That number increased to 5,629 in 2017.
  • 69 percent of the people counted were not sheltered (living on streets, in cars, etc.), which is about a 10 percent increase from 2015.
  • 82 percent of those surveyed said their prior residence was in Alameda County.
  • 58 percent have been homeless for at least one year.
  • The number of homeless veterans increase from 388 in 2015 to 531 in 2017.
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