Report shows homeless languishing in San Luis Obispo County
January 8, 2014
By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County is ranked third in the nation for the highest percent of homeless who sleep unsheltered and is bucking the national trend of reducing homelessness, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report made to Congress.
In San Luis Obispo County, 90 percent of homeless sleep unsheltered. Nationally, 35 percent of homeless sleep in unsheltered locations, the report says.
Nationally, since 2007, there has been a 27 percent decrease in the percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, the report says. During the same period, the number of people staying in shelters increased by less than 1 percent and the total number of homeless decreased by 9 percent.
A national effort to reduce homelessness through a plan that promotes rapid rehousing programs for homeless families and some adults and supportive housing for the chronically homeless has resulted in a 4 percent reduction in overall homelessness from 2012 to 2013, the report says. These programs focus on quickly helping homeless find employment, housing, mental health services and connecting them with social service programs.
In San Luis Obispo County, where efforts to help homeless have focused on building a hundred bed shelter and mandating that homeless agree to a case management program that requires they relinquish financial control of their income, the number of homeless increased 3 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the SLO County 2013 homeless report.
A report released last year by SLO County’s Homelessness Services Oversight Council details the failures of the county’s “10-year-plan to end homelessness.” SLO County Social Services Director Lee Collins told the County Board of Supervisors in November that non-sheltered homeless people also stress county and private medical resources.
Supervisor Adam Hill questioned the validity of the county report and its depiction of homeless people. Hill argued that while the report noted the plan’s failures, it did not mention the people they had helped.
Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) homeless services director Dee Torres originally argued against diverting from the 10-year-plan and moving homeless funding efforts toward long-term housing. However, at the supervisor meeting in November, Torres changed her position saying she could support the plan as long as those placed into housing would be required to work with case management which she felt the county should not oversee.
Currently, homeless wanting to secure a bed in the homeless shelter are required to enter CAPSLO case management which mandates that clients dole out about 50 percent of their income to CAPSLO or an affiliate agency to be managed.