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Chronic Homelessness Jumps 11 Percent in Santa Clara County

Officials release preliminary numbers during a 'Housing 1000 SV' presentation.

There are 11 percent more chronically homeless people living in Santa Clara County this year than in 2009, according to preliminary numbers released today from the county's bi-annual homeless census.

Officials released the data, along with findings from the "" survey this week, during a one-stop "Project Homeless Connect" event in San Jose.

Volunteers counted 7,045 homeless residents during the February Santa Clara County Homeless Census and Survey, 41 individuals less than during the same count in 2009.

While the total number decreased slightly, there were 250 more chronically homeless, totalling 2,520 county residents who have been without permanent housing for more than a year.

Current numbers for Mountain View have yet to be released.

Officials at the event said that improved counting methods in the 2011 census could have contributed to the higher number of chronically homeless in the data.

The numbers in the survey reflect a point-in-time count conducted throughout the county in February. Volunteers surveyed areas in car and on foot along with a homeless guide.

Housing 1,000 SV, a separate project from the census, is an effort to record the specific needs of homeless individuals in the county. It kicked off this week.

"It upsets me that there are people dying on the streets and we don't even know their names," says campaign director for the nationwide Housing 100,000 project, Becky Kanis.

More than 700 homeless individuals in 10 cities were surveyed for Housing 1,000 SV, with 271 identified to be at high risk of death due to illness or other factors.

Participants took 491 photos of the responders as part of the survey in an effort to create a way to identify and aid the individuals.

The members and local chapters of Housing 100,000 aim to house the country's 100,000 most vulnerable homeless by 2013.

The biannual homeless census is required to obtain federal funding for homeless programs.

Highlights from Housing 1000 SV

  • Cities surveyed: Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Mountain View, Palo Also, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.
  • Total individuals surveyed: 700
  • 36 individuals were homeless more than 20 years.
  • The longest length of homelessness was 58 years.
  • Median years of homeless for vulnerable population was 6 years; 4 for non-vulnerable.
  • 226 reported dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse.
  • 78 reported symptoms of mental illness.
  • 217 reported history of substance abuse.
  • 521 reported a behavioral health issue.
  • 130 surveyed were veterans: 103 were honorably discharged, and 61 met criteria for “vulnerable”
  • 99 reported a history of foster care.
  • 33 were under 25 years old, 20 of them had a history of foster care.
  • 140 were employed.
  • 143 have some sort of Social Security benefit.
  • 226 reported being the victim of a violent attack since becoming homeless
  • 142 reported suffering from a brain injury.

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