Homeless Population on Rise in San Mateo County

Despite spending over $10 million a year on prevention, San Mateo County's homeless population jumped by 17 percent.

By Chris Roberts
|  Saturday, May 14, 2011  |  Updated 3:36 PM PDT
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Homelessness on Rise in San Mateo County

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Despite $10 million in annual county spending in homeless outreach, homelessness has jumped 17 percent since 2009.

Is it the weather, the economy, the quiet(er) surroundings? Whatever it is, San Mateo County is becoming a more popular destination for the region's homeless population, according to the most recent data.

The Peninsula's homeless population jumped by 17 percent since 2009, the Palo Alto Daily News reported.

This figure is based on a Jan. 27 count, when San Mateo County enlisted volunteers to count the county's homeless population. Volunteers recorded 2,149 folks sleeping without a roof, or 350 more than the last tally, four years ago.

The increase in homelessness comes despite some $10 million in annual county spending in homeless outreach and efforts to keep people in housing.

There's likely even more homeless people than that, according to Wendy-Ann Goldberg, who manages homeless services for the county's Human Services Agency. "The hidden homeless" means another 3-to-6 percent of the homeless population is never counted.

The average person without housing in San Mateo County is a single male with at least one disability, said San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley. The individuals want to work, but "face significant challenges, particularly in this economy," Horsley said.

The homeless count included people in shelters as well as in the streets or in encampments. East Palo Alto was the locality with the most people living out of shelters, with 385. Redwood City had 233 people living outside, and South San Francisco had 122.

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