The Need

As many as 16,000 people experience homelessness during the course of a year in Alameda County. Thousands more with serious and persistent mental illness and/or HIV/AIDS are living precariously or without a home. Data compiled in the Alameda Countywide Shelter and Services Survey, May 2004 Report (ACSSS) found that:

  • 6,215 people are homeless on any given night.
  • Children comprise 28% of the county’s homeless population (1,755).
  • Families comprise 43% of the county’s homeless population (2,691).
  • More urbanized areas of Oakland and Berkeley have higher percentages of adults unaccompanied by children.
  • More suburban areas of Mid, South and East County have higher percentages of families with children (including single parent families).

Physical/Behavioral Health, Disabilities & Homelessness

There are strong associations between homelessness and poor physical and mental health, as well as physical, emotional, and other disabilities.

  • 58% of homeless adults have one or more disabilities, including mental illness, HIV/AIDS and other physical disabilities.
  • Over 30,000 people with mental illness have extremely low incomes and are at risk of homelessness in Alameda County.
  • Nearly 1,000 people with mental illness are homeless on any given night, and over 30% of those are dually diagnosed with a substance abuse addiction.
  • In Alameda County, there are nearly 5,000 people living with HIV/AIDS who have extremely low incomes and are at risk of becoming homeless.
  • Homeless persons are more likely to rely on emergency room or urgent care facilities, require more hospitalizations and report delayed care for drug dependency and mental health problems.

Mainstream Systems & Homelessness

Many homeless and marginally housed people are exiting mainstream institutional systems such as foster care, criminal justice, and hospitalization directly into homelessness.

  • 20% of homeless adults in Alameda County have been in an institution prior to age 18.
  • 14% of homeless adults had been in foster care, 7% had been in a group home and 6% had been in another type of institution.
  • One in three homeless individuals under age 30 experienced a child protective services placement prior to age 18.

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Lack of Affordable Housing

The high cost of housing in Alameda County both increases homelessness in the region and is itself a barrier to preventing and ending homelessness. According to Out of Reach 2006, a report jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Housing California:

  • Alameda County is one of the top 10 least affordable housing markets in the U.S.
  • A family earning minimum wage needs to work over 142 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
  • A disabled individual living on SSI income has less total monthly income ($812) than the Fair Market Rent of a studio apartment ($900).
  • Approximately 34,000 (6%) of Alameda County’s 523,000 households are at severe risk of homelessness because they are extremely low-income renters paying more than 50% of their income on housing.

More information and data about homelessness in Alameda County can be found in the Alameda Countywide Shelter and Services Survey, May 2004 Report.