Santa Clara County Board Approves Homeless Task Force

NBC Bay Area

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to establish a homeless task force and a plan to address the region's housing insecurity crisis.

"It's (the task force) critical from a humanitarian standpoint," Supervisor Dave Cortese said in an interview Tuesday. "Obviously we have a lot of people living in creeks and underpasses, and 700 of them are veterans. It's shameful."

The task force - which is to be called the Unhoused Task Force - will work on serving homeless people in the county and helping them transition into temporary and permanent supportive housing with increased
funding for mental health services, increased shelter beds countywide and more publicly available storage and hygiene services for unhoused people.

"It's costing us about $521 million a year to deal with the in-and-out recidivism of unsheltered people landing in different places in our system, whether it's at emergency rooms, whether it's jail, whether it's in and out of courtrooms, case work, behavioral health offices," Cortese said. "That's largely because they're not stabilized, they're not in one place long enough to get the continuous care that they need, and so where they end up instead is on the street, with police, acting out, having problems, parking in the wrong place. This all costs the county money, a lot of money."

The action plan for the task force calls for the addition of 2,000 shelter beds to the county's arsenal of "short-term solutions" to homelessness countywide within 12 to 18 months, with a requirement of at least 200 per supervisorial district. The task force will also work to expand state investments in the county through surplus state land and state-owned trailers and tents.

"It's actually going to be saving you money," Cortese said. "There's a business model here as well."

The task force will report back to the board by March 24 on its progress.

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