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Jennifer said. “This approach is working, but we still have a long way to go.” “We’re seeing an 84 percent success rate with homeless people who have been housed with access to case management and other essential services. That includes people who have endured a decade or more of homelessness. It’s a huge win.” Jennifer pointed to the Gilroy Sobrato Apartments as an early and major step in the right direction. It provides 25 units of 100 percent supportive housing for chronically homeless, many of whom have disabilities. According to Jennifer, the current challenge is the shortage of housing units. “We’re partnering with the County, cities and others to increase the supply of housing for the homeless. We’re excited about the potential for a housing bond measure to make it onto the November ballot.” (At the time of this writing, the Board of Supervisors had not yet confirmed such a measure for the November ballot.) “Along with funding, we need policies that support housing first strategies. City councils and staff need to work with county departments and other organizations. These partnerships are vital to success.” Supportive Housing and Homelessness Prevention Ky Le is Director of the Office of Supportive Housing for Santa Clara County. His office implements housing policies established by the county’s board of supervisors. He calls it a safety net system that connects the most vulnerable population with housing resources and coordinates the county services available to them. KY LE “Our homeless population is quite diverse, but the overwhelming majority wants permanent housing. We have interviewed many people who have been without a home for ten or more years and it’s not by choice.” Ky described three priorities of his department: Permanent Supportive Housing Deep long-term subsidized housing accompanied by services. This strategy addresses people identified by the county as chronically homeless due to disabling conditions. Ky said more units need to be built. Rapid Rehousing Individuals or families without disabling conditions may need temporary rental assistance. This strategy gives people a home and helps them “transition in place” and take on the full rent as they are able. 26 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Homelessness Prevention Services This strategy provides a one-time brief rental or other type of financial assistance for people identified as at risk of homelessness. Assistance with budgeting, credit counseling and other services are also provided as needed. “We’ve been implementing these solutions for some time and they are effective when properly funded and managed. No single agency has the wherewithal or authority to solve the challenge on its own. Ideally, we need stakeholders to come together and set five-and ten-year goals for further development of supportive housing.” Working alongside Ky is Bob Dolci, the County’s Housing and Homeless Concerns Coordinator (among other roles) in the Office of Housing and Homeless Support Services. His office develops policies, coordinates services for the homeless, and collaborates with other levels of government, community-based organizations, and the private sector to advocate for legislation and advance public policies to end homelessness. County Housing and Homeless Support Programs • • • • • • • • HUD Housing Program for Homeless Addicted to Alcohol HUD Mental Health Permanent Supportive Housing Program Shelter Plus Care Program Cold Weather Shelter Program Transitional Housing Unit Program UPLIFT County Share Contract (transit pass program with the VTA) Outreach and Engagement of Homeless Individuals Biennial Homeless Census and Survey Contract Remembering the Needs of Our Downtown Merchants Last April, the Compassion Center made a presentation to the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce on a proposed tiny homes village to house and provide services to the homeless. Chamber President Mark Turner applauded their work saying it was a comprehensive presentation, but wondered if it would really minimize the problem given the cost to the community. MARK He expressed the growing concern of TURNER chamber members about the impact of homelessness on downtown Gilroy. “Our business community is very compassionate. They hire the homeless and donate to support services. At the same time, the presence of the homeless downtown means business owners sometimes have to deal with trash, wash down the walkway in front of their stores, and cope with other disturbances. It discourages customers from shopping. We monitor the issue and communicate with various organizations, but it’s frustrating. We’re all looking for a proven model of success – one that shows long-term results.” JULY / AUGUST 2016