Updated: Nov 13
World Homelessness Day is observed internationally on October 10th each year. This occasion serves as a global reminder of the ongoing efforts to prevent and alleviate homelessness. West Valley Community Services' mission of "ensuring everyone has a stable roof over their heads" embodies this worldwide goal. Read on for more context and details about WVCS work in this area.
What does Homelessness look like in Santa Clara County?
The annual Point in Time (POT) count in Santa Clara County provides valuable insights into the homelessness situation in the area. According to last year's survey, there are approximately 9,903 individuals experiencing homelessness in the county. Notably, 25% of them have access to shelter, while 75% remain unsheltered. One significant finding from the survey is the range of primary causes attributed to homelessness, highlighting the multifaceted nature of this issue:
24% of those surveyed cited employment loss as the primary cause.
11% mentioned alcohol or drug use.
9% reported divorce, separation, or breakup.
8% mentioned eviction as the primary cause.
An additional 8% mentioned other factors.
This data underscores the fact that there is no single factor responsible for homelessness. Contrary to popular belief, mental health and substance abuse, while important issues, are not the exclusive causes of homelessness. Individuals experiencing homelessness come from diverse backgrounds and experiences that have led them to their current situations. Recognizing this diversity is crucial for understanding and addressing the homelessness crisis effectively.
What type of Safety Net services does West Valley Community Services Provide?
West Valley Community Services (WVCS) is actively engaged in its Haven to Home (HTH) Program, providing vital support to unhoused individuals residing in Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and West San Jose. In the year 2022, this program effectively extended its assistance to 77 new HTH households, supporting the organization's commitment to addressing homelessness in the region. Our initiative includes the following:
Haven to Home Job Training Program, funded through the City of Cupertino, provides two unhoused individuals with an opportunity to get on-the-job experience and training to help support future employment, stability, and self-sufficiency. The program will enable participants to participate in a combination of formal training and on-the-job skill development and create a job history, which can be helpful for folks who currently have gaps in their employment for one year or more. We have been running this program for three years and have successfully moved 5 out of the 6 participants into permanent housing and employment. Our last client was a family of three who had been camping for several years with their 12-year-old. We helped them obtain drivers licenses and build employment histories resulting in some stability for this family. This one intervention helped improve three individuals' lives.
Haven to Home Supportive Services
Housing-First methodology imparts that vulnerable and at-risk homeless individuals are more responsive to interventions and social services support after they are placed in their own housing rather than in temporary/transitional facilities or housing. The main goals of this program are to help participants maintain employment, enhance income opportunities, and secure permanent housing. The Haven to Home Program supports 75 currently un-housed individuals and families in securing permanent housing, maintaining employment, enhancing income opportunities and developing financial stability. The supportive services critical to the success of this program are intensive case management, housing search, landlord mediation, benefits assistance, transportation, laundry quarters and referral to financial coaching and job search programs.
The Haven to Home Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Program aims to help homeless individuals and families move as quickly as possible into permanent housing and achieve housing stability through a combination of short-term rental assistance and supportive services. The TBRA model is based on the housing first approach, a proven methodology for ending homelessness. The program is based on providing rent support that makes up the difference between the cost of rent and what a household can pay. Currently, we have six clients in the program. Two out of the six are seniors who had been unable to find supportive housing and were enrolled in the program to help them stabilize their health. The rest of the clients had lived in RVs or slept in their cars.