The Santa Clara County count of homeless residents serves as a baseline for the understanding of homelessness in the region. This survey captures individuals and families sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing, as well as people sleeping on the streets, in vehicles, in abandoned properties, or in other places not meant for human habitation. Mountain View homelessness nearly doubled from 139 in 2013, to 276 in 2015. These numbers have risen further countywide in 2017. For Mountain View there are 416 homeless, up by 51 percent from 2015.
Homelessness and the regional housing crisis are significant issues for communities throughout the Bay Area, including Mountain View. Increasing housing availability and affordability remains a top priority of the City Council, and the City continues to examine a broad range of options for increasing supply and assisting displaced residents. The City knows it cannot meet these significant challenges alone. The City is collaborating with Santa Clara County, the Community Services Agency (CSA) and other local non-profits to improve short and long-term community outcomes with regard to homelessness.
For more than two years, the City has been studying ways to address the rise in homelessness and residents living in vehicles, guided by detailed reports on the feasibility of safe parking options, regional stakeholder input and a community census. We are looking for feasible solutions to short-term human services support while putting people back on the path to stable housing. These efforts affect both housed and unsheltered residents.
Shorter-term strategies include, providing basic human services designed to start those in need on the path to more permanent future housing. Services authorized by City Council on October 4, 2016 include:
Longer-term strategies include, services authorized by the City Council on March 7, 2017, extending several of the short-term solutions mentioned above including funding for continuing programs like the funding of a mobile Outreach Worker based Community Services Agency (CSA) and a Caseworker with the County until June of 2019. These new programs help to connect residents to support and stable housing options. Additional funding was also provided for a pilot RV waste disposal program. The City Council also supported on-going work with other agencies and community based organizations, engagement to faith-community, monitoring safe parking options, enhancing homeless client surveys, continuing to develop measurable goals for the new programs and reviewing parking and signage.
Committed More than $1 Million Dollars to Over the Next Two and a Half Years
Though we have been looking at this issue for some time, most of the resource-intensive initiatives being implemented are NEW. A new Mobile Outreach and Casework Program began in March 2017, a new Community Outreach Officer was deployed in July 2017 and longer-term affordable housing strategies were considered in September 2017.
These initiatives follow the City’s three-pronged strategy, which is expected to take at least two years to help those in need and assist our neighborhoods:
We are also continuing to combine our efforts with other local and regional agencies to make a more substantial impact. Through the help of County of Santa Clara, community and faith-based groups, and members of the Santa Clara County EAN, like the Community Services Agency of Mountain View (CSA), we now have a better understanding of our local needs.
Continued outreach and regional cooperation has allowed us to ramp up outreach for homeless prevention services and homeless case management to address the unique needs of each individual. Some of the existing services we’re connecting people to include: CSA’s food and nutrition program; Mountain View’s Senior Nutrition Program at the Senior Center; showers, breakfast and CSA social worker access at Hope’s Corner, and showers and laundry services through Dignity on Wheels at CSA.
As we move into winter months, we are also working with the County on a proposed pilot program, funded by the County for a cold weather shelter at the Trinity United Methodist and will provide a pilot program for RV-waste disposal services.
Affordable Housing Priorities and Strategic Framework – City Council Study Session Report - September 12, 2017.
Strategies to Assist the Homeless and Unstably Housed Residents – City Council Report - March 7, 2017.
Update on Efforts Related to Homeless Residents Living in Vehicles, and Consideration of Direction on Options – City Council Report - October 4, 2016.
Within the larger direction established by Council at the October 2016 and March 2017 Council meetings linked above, staff developed a fifty (50) item work plan of action items (Attachment 2—Homeless Initiatives Work Plan). Click here for a the work plan progress as of July 2017. City continues to look at solutions and options. Status is summarized below:
An further update on the homeless initiatives and enforcement options will be provided to the City Council in early 2018.
It is helpful to understand that vehicles used for sleeping are not illegal if the vehicle complies with other laws. Enforcement of the Mountain View City Code Chapter 19, Article IX Section 19.111(c), which prohibits vehicles parked on public streets from being used for dwelling purposes has been suspended in light of recent case law on this issue. In Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a similar provision of the City of Los Angeles City Code was unconstitutional.
The City continues to enforce other code provisions such as vehicles parking for more than 72 hours when applicable.
The City understands concerns about maintaining the quality of life in Mountain View and balancing interests of those living in vehicles with those of our neighbors. While most residents living in vehicles abide by laws, Mountain View has continued to enforce other code provisions when applicable, such as illegal waste dumping or trespassing.
For questions about the City's homeless initiatives, use AskMV and choose "Homeless/Living in Vehicles" from the menu.