San Jose reveals homelessness data
Columbus Park area resident Tom sings a song while sitting on the back of his vehicle on Nov. 23, 2022. Photo by Joseph Geha.

    San Jose is launching a tool to help the public better understand the city’s efforts to address growing homelessness.

    The Homelessness Program Dashboard lets residents browse different city-run programs and learn more about their results on the city website. The tool shows where funding comes from, which services are being prioritized and how many people are being served.

    “We can’t expect to solve our residents’ most pressing problems if city hall isn’t measuring the results of our work,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said. “This is an important step towards the real-time, fully transparent data that policymakers and residents need to see in order to track our progress in reducing the level of street homelessness in San Jose.”

    According to the dashboard, San Jose prevented 2,483 people from falling into homelessness and helped 4,824 people find housing last year. The city also served more than 6,000 individuals through emergency shelters and temporary housing over the same period, the data shows.

    Last year, the city spent $35.6 million, roughly 30% of its homelessness budget, on prevention measures, and $32.6 million on constructing temporary housing. Roughly $1.4 million went to shelter services, and $10.5 million went to “other” services, without specifying what those entail.

    The dashboard includes data from June 2021 through September 2022. Officials said the tracker will be updated regularly.

    A screenshot of San Jose’s homeless program tracker.

    The dashboard comes online as San Jose residents continue to be frustrated with ongoing homelessness in the city, with at least 6,650 people having no place to call home. Officials have invested in a number of long- and short-term initiatives, including building transitional and supportive housing, converting motel rooms into apartments, adding more affordable housing options and implementing homeless prevention measures.

    The tracker is also part of the city’s efforts to defend itself against the state’s criticism of local cities wasting funding, officials previously told San José Spotlight. Last November, Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to halt a $1 billion homelessness grant to cities including San Jose, citing the lack of accountability and calling for more aggressive strategies. State Sen. Dave Cortese called for an audit last December on the city’s spending on emergency housing programs and services, such as Project Homekey—the state’s multi-billion-dollar grant program for homeless housing. San Jose has received roughly $125 million from the program.

    Ray Bramson, chief impact officer at Destination: Home and San José Spotlight columnist, said the dashboard will help advance the conversation and understanding around solutions for homelessness.

    “It’s important to see a degree of transparency of the important efforts being made to prevent and end homelessness in the city,” Bramson told San José Spotlight. “The result seems promising from what the city is reporting, but we’ll need to continue to work as a community not just in San Jose, but throughout Santa Clara County, with all of our partners to keep people off the streets.”

    Former unhoused resident turned advocate Scott Largent said he remains skeptical of San Jose’s promise of transparency and accountability.

    “This looks like a pacifier to get the general housed residents not as upset at the city,” Largent told San José Spotlight. “But I don’t think the public is going to buy it.”

    Largent said the city should also include programs that are in the pipeline and track the progress of those efforts, pointing to the safe parking program planned in South San Jose. The program was scheduled to come online last year, but city officials said it won’t be ready until at least April.

    “This is not a complete picture,” he said. “I want to see things that are not working. I want to see the city acknowledge that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.”

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

    Editor’s Note: Destination: Home CEO Jen Loving sits on San José Spotlight’s board of directors.
    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.