San Jose

Santa Clara County's Homeless Population Jumps 13 Percent

Numbers released Friday show the overall homeless population in Santa Clara County jumped to 7,394

The homeless situation in the South Bay appears to be getting worse.

Numbers released Friday show the overall homeless population in Santa Clara County jumped 13 percent to 7,394.

The overall number of homeless youth, which covers unaccompanied youth and slightly older transitional youth, jumped 286 percent to 3,530.

Part of the increase in numbers may be due to better tracking, but either way advocates said it is clear more needs to be done to address the county's homeless issue.

San Jose recently decided it will begin warning and fining unpermitted groups who feed the homeless at St. James Park. Many of those who showed up for a Friday protest food giveaway at the park were not necessarily there to demonstrate, but were simply hungry.

One recipient said the rising number of homeless shows it can happen to anyone.

"What if you get laid off or fired? And you can't pay your house off or your apartment?" homeless Donna Wright said.

Homeless advocates said they hope the new, bigger homeless population will lead San Jose to look for solutions, rather than just track the problem.

"The No. 1 reason people can't end homelessness is the high cost of housing," said Shaunn Cartwright with Rise Up For Justice.

Cartwright said 70 percent of the homeless population are saying they can't find a place to rent.

"They can't afford rent," Cartwright said.

Ryan Nunez, a 14-year-old volunteer, said the 286-percent increase in homeless youth should scare everyone.

"It's kind of hard for them to survive out here because they have no resources," Nunez said. "They're just stuck here with nothing to eat, nothing to drink."

Wright said the numbers do not lie.

"Deal with it," she said. "Yes, try to deal with it."

Santa Clara County has seen progress in some categories. The count showed a drop in homeless veterans and the chronically homeless.

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