2019 Census Shows Dramatic Increase in Homeless Population Across Bay Area

The new numbers came as Sen. Scott Wiener announced the postponement of Senate Bill 50, which seeks to legalize more housing near public transportation and job centers

The homeless population across the Bay Area has significantly increased over the past two years, according to a new census released Thursday by Santa Clara County, Alameda County and the city of San Francisco.

Santa Clara County officials conducted the biennial homeless census over two days in January 2019 and found 9,706 homeless adults living in the county's 15 cities and unincorporated areas, an increase of 2,312 from the 2017 count. For Alameda County, officials found a total of 8,022 people who were homeless, a 43% increase compared to 2017 data.

In San Francisco, the homeless population (8,011) increased by 17%, according to city officials. 

Speaking to reporters in San Francisco on Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he anticipated the dramatic increase in the number of homeless population across the state of California.

"We've got a housing crisis. We've build 77,000 housing units last year, less than the year prior. We need to be building close to 400,000," Newsom said. "Affordability is the issue in the state of California. Housing is the biggest issue in relation to affordability."

The new numbers came on the same day as Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced the postponement of Senate Bill 50, which seeks to legalize more housing near public transportation and job centers, by the Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

"The Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee made #SB50 a 2-year bill, meaning he won’t let it come up for a vote this year. It’ll be eligible for a vote in January. While I’m extremely disappointed, I am 100% committed to moving the bill forward. This fight is far from over," Wiener said in a statement.

In San Jose, the overall homeless population was 6,172, which is 1,822 more than the 2017 count.

Santa Clara County says it housed approximately 4,000 formerly homeless families and individuals since 2017 but the regional increase in homeless population is outpacing the county's effort to find people a place to live.

"So far, the County has committed $234 million of Measure A funds toward 19 housing developments that will collectively add 1,437 apartments for the most vulnerable in our community," Joe Simitian, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement.

Countywide, the number of chronically homeless was 2,470, an increase of 373 over 2017. The percentage of homeless county residents who were unsheltered was 82 percent, up from 74 percent in 2017, Santa Clara county said.

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