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.
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.
October 24 City Council Study Session Update
At the affordable housing study session, staff estimated that the City’s various housing fee programs would generate approximately $78 million over the next four years, based on the current projects that are in the pipeline. Staff recommended that approximately $50 million be invested in general affordable housing developments at 60% AMI and below for a goal of 350-400 units, and up to $28 million for permanent supportive housing/rapid rehousing for a goal of 200-250 units. The City Council supported this investment strategy. Staff is working with the County, non-profit developers, and external partners to explore how to achieve this goal.
Safe Parking "Lots of Love" Pilot Program
Lots of Love is a new, independent non-profit that has taken on the challenge to provide a safe space with overnight parking and supportive services for small pilot program assisting those in need in our community. They are an important part of a number of new safe parking programs in the region seeking to help the growing number of residents and regional employees living out of their cars and RVs. This program is funded by Santa Clara County and the City of Mountain View (Mountain View funding for the pilot program ($55,300 to June 2018- June 2019) County Funding for the pilot program ($287,525 to June 2018-June 2020).
The City supports this modest, but important contribution to addressing the 250-300 residents living in vehicles on Mountain View streets. This pilot program is not intended to be a solution to the affordable housing crisis, and is not the only answer to getting residents living in vehicles off neighborhood streets. The City and the County continue implementing a number of affordable housing strategies and supportive services for the most vulnerable unstably housed, homeless, and low-income families.
Lots of Love is a new, independent non-profit that has taken on the challenge to provide a safe space with overnight parking and supportive services for small pilot program assisting those in need in our community. They are an important part of a number of new safe parking programs in the region seeking to help the growing number of residents and regional employees living out of their cars and RVs. This program is funded by Santa Clara County and the City of Mountain View. Each supports this modest, but important contribution to addressing the 250-300 residents living in vehicles on Mountain View streets. This pilot program is not intended to be a solution to the affordable housing crisis, and is not the only answer to getting residents living in vehicles off neighborhood streets. The City and the County continue implementing a number of affordable housing strategies and supportive services for the most vulnerable unstably housed, homeless, and low-income families.
One church signed on and a number of others are considering it, and are going through similar outreach and engagement with their neighbors. Initial plans include three to four vehicles hosted at churches, which does not require a City permit as it is a compatible temporary use. A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) application would be required for hosting more vehicles and services on church property. Services will include case management by CSA with on-going engagement, and lot monitoring will be provided. There will be a number of ways you can reach out to the non-profit to offer feedback on the three-month pilot program; the aim of the pilot period is to ensure any issues are addressed. The Lots of Love pilot program starts on or about July 2, 2018.
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. (News: Cold Weather Shelter Opens in Mountain View)
Update on Initiatives to Assist Homeless and Unstably Housed, and Consideration of Parking Enforcement Options — City Council Report, March 7 2018 (Item 7.1).
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 (Homeless Initiatives Work Plan). Click here for a the work plan progress as of December 2017. City continues to look at solutions and options. Status is summarized below and a further update on the homeless initiatives and enforcement options will be provided to the City Council on March 6, 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 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.
The best way for people to help is to volunteer or donate money or items to members of the Emergency Assistance Network (EAN), which include the Community Services Agency here in Mountain View. Get more information about local EANs and the Community Services Agency in the links below.
Santa Clara County Hotlines are also available:
As part of the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program, Santa Clara County Public Health is now providing their mobile health for services at CSA. This program provides medical services, mental health services, substance use services, and social work and outreach services to homeless and low-income individuals. It is part of expanded efforts to provide services to North County. Services will be provided to Mountain View: Thursdays from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Community Services Agency (CSA) located at 204 Stierlin Road, Mountain View.
Santa Clara County Hotlines are also available:
For questions about the City's homeless initiatives, use AskMV and choose "Homeless/Living in Vehicles" from the menu.
For questions about parking violations, use AskMV and choose "Police Department/Parking Enforcement" from the menu.