Santa Clara County scores millions in HUD funding
HUD Regional Administrator Jason Pu, Destination: Home Chief Program Officer Chad Bojorquez, Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, Santa Clara County Housing Authority Executive Director Preston Prince and San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan celebrate an $11 million federal grant to alleviate street homelessness. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    Millions of federal dollars are funneling into Santa Clara County to help shelter and support those experiencing homelessness.

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an $11 million one-time grant to the Santa Clara County Continuum of Care coalition—a group of local government, private and nonprofit partners dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness. The first-of-its-kind HUD grant provides dollars for both housing and services for residents living on the street.

    “Getting people in unsheltered situations into housing quickly and providing the wrap-around services that they need to get onto a better path is how we solve homelessness,” HUD Regional Administrator Jason Pu said. “The work at the local level is where it’s really at. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where implementation really happens.”

    Santa Clara County is one of 75 communities to receive a federal grant since the program launched in February. HUD has dolled out more than $486 million dollars across the country—$101 million to California, Pu said.

    Jason Pu, regional administrator for HUD’s Region IX, said providing housing quickly and supportive services is how the county can solve homelessness. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    Susan Ellenberg, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said the county received a hefty award because it has implemented solutions proven to work. Three years ago, about 2.5 people were falling into homelessness for every person that was housed. Now that number is down to 1.7 people falling into homelessness. In 2022, the county housed more than 3,500 people—an 18% increase over the previous year, Ellenberg said.

    “Despite the success, there are still thousands of people experiencing homelessness in our community (and) tens of thousands more who are at risk of being pushed into homelessness,” Ellenberg said. “This award builds on our collective impact model in addressing homelessness.”

    Locally, the money is expected to help approximately 1,000 residents annually for about three years, officials said. More than $2 million will be allocated to Agrihood—a large urban farm housing development that will provide shelter and supportive services to 54 chronically homeless residents. The county’s rapid rehousing program—which provides rental assistance for homeless residents—will receive more than $3.1 million to assist 28 unsheltered households annually. And $5.4 million will go to outreach, engagement and housing placement services that will support more than 800 households annually.

    Santa Clara County has roughly 10,028 homeless people—the region’s highest number since 2007. Most of those residents—6,650 homeless people—reside in San Jose. Consuelo Hernandez, director of the county’s office of supportive housing, said more than 70% of their clients are from San Jose, however the city is not receiving any direct dollars.

    San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said that any dollars that go to the county, or even local partners, is a win for San Jose. The solution to solving the ever-growing homeless population is to leverage partnerships across the nonprofit and private sectors, as well as every level of government.

    “We see it as a great win when other cities get funding for projects that solve homelessness. This is a regional issue. It’s a state issue. And now increasingly sadly, it’s becoming a national issue,” Mahan said. “Today is an incredible partnership across levels of government.”

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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