Santa Clara County works to finalize five-year plan to eradicate homelessness
Kathryn Kaminski, a manager with the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing, gives a presentation on the county's framework to combat homelessness. Photo by Janice Bitters.

Santa Clara County housing advocates and leaders are in the final stages of finalizing the newest five-year plan to eradicate homelessness — or at least try to get everyone in the county housed by 2025.

This week, the group leading the effort to build the plan unveiled its high-level framework as housing advocates and local leaders make a final push for community feedback before March, when the plan — along with its priority initiatives for the first year — will be adopted by a county board known as the Continuum of Care.

After the county’s Continuum of Care adopts the framework in March, cities can take parts of the report that work best for them, said Kathryn Kaminski, a manager with the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing.

“We hope that cities will see themselves reflected in the strategies in the plan and things that they can take action on,” she said. “We’ll also be working with them moving forward to engage them in the process of implementation over the next five years.”

The report shows a three-pronged strategy to address the “root causes” of homelessness, expand prevention and housing programs and to improve the quality of life for people who are homeless in a broad framework.

Each of those strategies come with specific steps the county could take to make progress, and that’s where community members come in — county leaders are asking residents to help prioritize the first-year priorities to implement the plan.

The report considers focusing on ways to partner with the criminal justice system to help people reintegrate from prison or jail into jobs and housing. It also touches on ways to help their families from becoming homeless.

To expand homelessness prevention, the report advocates for pushing for more private and philanthropic financial support and sets a lofty goal of building 30,000 new units of affordable and supportive housing for low-income and unhoused residents.

For the already unhoused, the framework suggests doubling temporary housing and shelter options in every city throughout Santa Clara County and increasing the scale of programs for unhoused residents with things like hygiene services. The report also advocates for increasing mental health and substance abuse services.

Housing advocates have been gathering community feedback to create the report for months, said Ray Bramson, chief impact officer at Destination: Home, one of the groups pushing forward the current initiative for the new five-year plan.

“There have been dozens of focus groups working with everyone from neighbors and community members to folks who have lived experience and nonprofit and government workers,” he said. “So there’s been a real attempt by a large constituency of people to reach out as far as what is possible.”

Community members can learn more about the specific suggestions in the framework by reading the draft document released this week, and then provide feedback through an online survey that closes at 8 p.m. Monday.

Contact Janice Bitters at janice@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Loving, executive director of Destination: Home services on San José Spotlight’s Board of Directors.

 

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