Federal funds rely on survey
Federal funds rely on survey

San Jose – Local social service agencies are looking to find how many homeless people there are in Santa Clara County two years after a census and survey determined the population to be more than 7,000.

The new count will be conducted by Watsonville-based Applied Survey Research during the last week of January.

Data on the homeless population is collected every two years.

There are two reasons for the census and survey, said Lynn Terzian, a management analyst for the Santa Clara County Office of Affordable Housing.

“All counties that want federal funding (for homeless assistance programs) need to collect this information,” Terzian said.

Every year, social service agencies in Santa Clara County apply for millions of dollars worth of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To justify need, the department requires new homeless data to be generated every other year.

The numbers are also used to determine if needs of the homeless population are being met, Terzian said.

“We’re going to focussing on measuring the change from 2005 to 2007,” said Peter Connery, vice president of Applied Survey Research.

According to the 2005 report by Applied Survey Research, there were 7,646 homeless people on the streets, in emergency shelters, transitional housing, domestic violence shelters, hospitals, jails and rehabilitation facilities in Santa Clara County.

The 150-page report also projected as many as 20,000 different people were homeless some time during 2004.

Other notable findings included:

-At least 16 percent of homeless people on the streets were single women.

-Almost 16 percent of the people in the street and shelters were in families.

-About 11 percent of survey respondents had children under the age of 18 living with them.

The cost of the upcoming census and survey is $82,000 and will be proportionately shared by the county and its 15 towns and cities, based on the percentage of the county’s population in each jurisdiction.

Gilroy’s share of the cost is about $2,200 and Morgan Hill’s is about $1,700. The county government is pitching in about $4,700 to cover unincorporated areas. San Jose is paying the lion’s share, about $44,000, more than half the total cost.

In November 2004, the Santa Clara County Office of Affordable Housing paid Applied Survey Research $168,000 for the prior homeless count, which was part of the development of the county’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

“This is going to be an abbreviated version of 2005,” Connery said. “We will counting about than a third of census tracts we counted in 2005.”

A “census tract” is a particular community defined for taking population counts.

Connery said budget limitations are preventing a more thorough study.

“But we’ll profile the most homeless-concentrated areas,” he added.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to work on the project can call Applied Survey Research at (877) 728-4545.

Tony Burchyns covers Morgan Hill for The Times. Reach him at (408) 779-4106 ext. 201 or tburchyns@morganhilltimes.

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