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Supervisors Hear Annual Report on Homelessness

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(Contra Costa Health Services via Bay City News)

By Tony Hicks
Bay City News

Workers need to earn $41.77 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Health officials told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in the agency’s annual report on county homelessness.

“I actually got some updated information yesterday, so it didn’t make it in here and it’s actually increased to almost $44 an hour, so it’s even more dire than what we have up on the screen,” Christy Saxton, director of health, housing and homeless services for CCH, told the board.

“That equates to three full-time minimum wage jobs. That’s a lot of work in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Contra Costa.”

Saxton said in neighboring Solano County, workers need about $33 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

>>>Read: Unhoused Narratives: Hoping for Better Days

“It shows that disparity of what we’re dealing with here in Contra Costa,” Saxton said. “That cost of housing is one of the single biggest factors in the rate of homelessness across the country, not just for Contra Costa, but across the country.”

The report said the cost of housing is the biggest factor in the county’s levels of homelessness, which 2,372 people were experiencing during the county’s 2023 annual point in time count of people without housing.

The number of homeless people in the county is likely closer to 10,000, county officials said, due to the count being over one two- to three-hour period earlier this year that took place not long after one of last winter’s severe storms forced many people to flee encampments.

>>>Read: Shelter from the Storm Not Enough for Homeless People

“That’s just who we happened to count that day,” said Supervisor Candace Andersen. “And as you go further down in your presentation, the community is going to see that we have served through a continuum of (health) care, over 10,000 individuals who are homeless.”

The report also said 30% of 5,849 households in “crisis response” in 2022 exited to temporary or permanent housing and 87% of 1,169 households using prevention services retained or exited into permanent housing, a number Saxton said showed the county does well in finding housing for those in need.

The report said 1,632 individuals had 7,559 total health care visits, whether they were going to county health facilities or workers were coming to them. It also said 96% of 1,116 households served in county permanent housing programs retained their housing.

Overall, Contra Costa Health served 19,136 individuals in 2022 from 10,600 households.

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