Homelessness in San Jose

Homelessness By the Numbers

By Sarat Lue, Mission Continues Fellow

Homelessness still remains one of the major concerns within the city of San José. The city and County of Santa Clara conduct a survey of the homeless population every two years in January. In 2015, a total of 4,063 people are homeless. As Figure 1 indicates, not all of them have the same living situation. Nonetheless, over 2,000 people are living either on the street or encampment areas along the highways and the creeks. 

Figure 1: Total homeless population

Figure 2: Living arrangements
immediately prior to becoming homeless

One of the biggest misconceptions about homeless people is that the majority of people believes that homeless people were “bad” people, and they put themselves in that situation; however, most of the homeless people simply cannot afford rent, lost their job, or have medical conditions. Figure 2 shows their living arrangements prior to becoming homeless. Three quarters of the people lived in their own home, with friends or relatives. Unfortunately, once someone becomes homeless, it is truly difficult to get back up on their feet. Figure 3 displays the top five reasons that prevent them from obtaining permanent housing. Money is the number one issue. With the current growth in the technology industry in the San Francisco Bay Area, the cost for a home continuously increases every year due to high demand for housing from people migrating to the area to enhance their careers. The struggle for people who do not have technical skills persists as they are competing for a limited availability and horrendous cost for housing. 

Figure 3: Obstacles to permanent housing
For more details on homeless census and survey, please visit the City of San José’s Housing Department website.

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