Latest Homeless Count Shows Decrease, with More Sheltered

The number of unhoused residents counted across Santa Clara County dropped slightly, and the numbers of sheltered people increased compared to last year, according to preliminary results of the 2023 “Point-in-Time” homeless census.

The data, released today by the County of Santa Clara and the City of San José, show the overall number of homeless individuals counted this year decreased by 1.2% in Santa Clara County and dropped by 4.7% in the city limits of San José.

Most of the data showed more improvement in San Jose – which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the homeless total – than in the county as a whole. San Jose’s overall population in the 2020 census is about 52 percent of the county total.

The significant exception is in the numbers of homeless people in families, which more than doubled in San Jose, to 891 (from 401 last  year), with a 36.5% increase countywide.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan seized on the new data as further evidence of the success of the city’s accelerated focus on a “quick-build” temporary housing program, as he heads towards a showdown over this issue when the council votes on the budget next month.

"The data show that for a second year in a row homelessness in San Jose has been reduced after almost a decade of climbing rates. “These reductions correspond to the city’s Emergency Interim Housing or Quick-Build Communities coming online,” City Hall said in a press release.

"This data proves that changing status quo policies can change our results for the better,” Mahan said in a statement. “These numbers show for the second year in a row that our increased investments in quick-build communities are working. It’s long past time to put more dollars toward housing-now solutions that move people from our streets and creeks into safe, dignified housing faster and more cost-effectively than what we’ve been doing.”

Mahan has staked out an aggressive public campaign to put pressure on city council members to shift city budget priorities to divert some funds for new permanent housing for the temporary emergency structures.

In its own press release, county housing officials said the new homeless date “reflect both the progress made and enormous challenges ahead.”

The county praised countywide efforts to tackle homelessness. “Over the past several years, stakeholders throughout the community have come together to implement a comprehensive response to homelessness – which has included building thousands of new units of affordable housing, scaling homelessness prevention assistance, expanding outreach and basic needs services, and piloting new temporary housing and shelter models,” the county said in its press release. “Collectively, these regional efforts are stemming the tide of homelessness. However, solving this severe crisis will require a continued and focused investment from all partners across the community.”

The rates of new people becoming homeless every month continues to exceed the number of people who obtain housing, the county reported.

Consuelo Hernandez, Director of the County’s Office of Supportive Housing, cautioned that the so-called “Pointin-TIme” homeless census ““is just a snapshot of one night so it is imprecise, but we can use the data, collected over time, as one of many tools to help us better understand the state of homelessness in Santa Clara County.

“Looking at this year’s count and previous years’ numbers, this signals to us that the crisis has not gotten worse despite the national and local economic fallout,” Hernandez said. “However, the needs in the community continue to grow and we must continue to focus our efforts in expanding the overall capacity of the supportive housing system.”

This year’s preliminary PIT data show there was a 4% decrease in the number of unsheltered individuals in the county, with nearly an 11% decrease in the city. Likewise, the numbers also show a 7.8% increase in sheltered individuals countywide, and a nearly 12% increase in the numbers of sheltered individuals in San Jose.

“This year’s count shows that our investments in permanent housing, interim housing, and prevention are beginning to gain traction and the homelessness crisis appears to be stabilizing,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, Director of the City of San Jose’s Housing Department. “While it is reassuring to see tangible evidence that our investments are moving us in the right direction, the count is also a reminder that thousands of people are still suffering on our streets. We must continue pushing as hard as we can to get all our neighbors into safe, dignified housing, and prevent more people from falling into homelessness.”

The report released today revealed that:

  • Across Santa Clara County, there was a 27.3% drop in the number of veterans who were homeless in our community, while the vet numbers in city grew slightly, by nearly 2%
  • While there was a 36.5% increase in the number of homeless families counted across the county, more than 80% were sheltered.

The county reported that:

  • Since 2020, “the supportive housing system” has helped 9,645 people move from homelessness to stable housing and has prevented homelessness for thousands of households.
  • Since the previous count in 2022, temporary and interim shelter capacity has expanded by 15%.
  • Since 2020, the Homelessness Prevention System helped more than 24,000 people remain stably housed while receiving services, while just 3% of these households became homeless after receiving assistance.
  • There has been a 27% drop in the number of people who become homeless for the first time in a given year.

“Thanks to our coordinated investments in temporary shelter, affordable housing, homelessness prevention and basic needs services, we are starting to stem the tide of homelessness in our community,” said Jennifer Loving, Chief Executive Officer of Destination: Home. “But we cannot take our foot off the pedal. We will only be able to end homelessness in Santa Clara County if we continue scaling proven housing strategies.”

The county Office of Supportive Housing publishes an annual report of its efforts.

The County, local cities and community partners continues to work on a 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness, with Destination Home.

2023 Point-in-Time Count
A look at the numbers (preliminary data)

Homelessness, Santa Clara County
2023 (2022), % Change

  • Overall, 9,903 (10,028). -1.2%
  • Sheltered, 2,502 (2,320), 7.8%
  • Unsheltered, 7,401 (7,708), -4.0%
  • Chronic, 3,166 (2,838), 11.6%
  • Vets, 479 (659), -27.3%
  • Youth, 764 (1,155), -33.9%
  • Individuals in Families, 1,266 (898), 36.5%

Homelessness, San Jose
2023 (2022), % Change

  • Overall, 6,340 (6,650), -4.7%
  • Sheltered, 1,929 (1,675), 12.9%
  • Unsheltered, 4,411 (4,975), -10.7%
  • Chronic, 1,971, (1,906), 3.4%
  • Vets, 342 (336), 1.8%
  • Youth, 646 (801), -19.4%
  • Individuals in Families, 891 (401), 122.2%

The Point-in-Time Count is a census of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night. It provides data used for federal funding allocations and national estimates of homelessness. While it is a helpful tool, it is an imprecise method and is best used as a supplement to the many other ways to measure homelessness.

The 2023 count brings Santa Clara County back to conducting the census every other year (on odd years) after the pandemic-related delay in 2021 that led to a subsequent count in 2022.

The data released on May 30 are considered preliminary. Data for other cities in Santa Clara County and the full report are currently being analyzed and will be released later this year.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

One Comment

  1. This is really bad news. With 1300 people in families now homeless, who likely lost their jobs due to the business destroying covid mandates, just think how bad the real numbers are for the drug addicted and mentally ill. When we make a competent count of those two population, I’d expect we’ll see a similar doubling so now even by our most rosy numbers we have 13,000 homeless people in the city.

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