A Clear Perspective and Path Forward on Homelessness

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I am writing today to announce the completion of a landmark study on homelessness in Santa Cruz and the beginning of a four part blog series to review the results. I am announcing this as it pertains to the release of the new Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, which has been approved by both the County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council. The plan, entitled All In – Toward a Home for Every County Resident, lays out a multi-faceted approach for addressing the specific demographic sub groups of homelessness within our community, starting where the previous 10 year plan left off. The study, conducted in partnership with faculty of the UCSC Community Studies, Sociology, and Psychology Departments, as well as the Center for Statistical Research, and funded by the Social Sciences Division, has two primary areas of focus: 1) to assess and document how the housed population perceives the issue of homelessness, and 2) explore the reality of those experiencing homelessness. Taken together, the results of this study paired with this new strategic plan should provide a much clearer perspective on the state of local homelessness, while outlining a path forward.

The strategic plan to end homelessness has 8 distinctive focus areas: 1. Transforming the Crisis Response System, 2. Increasing Access to Permanent Housing, 3. Integrating Systems and Community Support, 4. Ending Chronic and Other Adult Homelessness, 5. Ending Family Homelessness, 6. Addressing Needs in South County, 7. Initiating a Response to Youth and Young Adult Homelessness, and 8. Ending Veteran Homelessness.

The study period began close to 8 months ago and was led by Community Studies Professor Mary Beth Pudup. I managed the data collection effort, helping to build a statistically representative sample of 420 households for the “housed” portion of the study (yielding a confidence interval of +/- 4.76 percent), and organizing 114 interviews with individuals experiencing homelessness. Interviews with those experiencing homelessness took roughly 30 minutes to complete each, and delved into a broad spectrum of topics, from sleeping and eating habits, to providing insight on whether or not Santa Cruz attracts homeless individuals from other areas.

Over the next 4 days I will be publishing a series of blog posts that dive into the highlights of our study. The first blog will provide an overview of how the housed population perceives the issue of homelessness. Respondents were asked to estimate the proportion of homeless individuals who suffer from mental illness, regularly take recreational drugs and alcohol, receive public assistance, and who are originally from Santa Cruz. Respondents were also asked about how important the issue of homelessness is in comparison to other issues, what they think the leading causes of local homelessness are, and whether or not they believe Santa Cruz attracts those experiencing homelessness.

The second blog will focus on the data collected from individuals experiencing homelessness, with a specific focus on why Santa Cruz has been portrayed as a magnet location. Individuals were also asked extensively about their daily habits, sleeping arrangements, and experiences regarding the Santa Cruz community.

The third blog will compare and contrast the data from both portions of the study, helping us to understand how perception matches up with reality, as many of the respondents from both groups were asked the same questions.

And the final blog post will outline a series of complimentary recommendations with the “All In” plan, giving you, the public, the opportunity to weigh in on the specific policies and programs begin considered for the future. All of the study’s data will be made publicly available upon each blog being published, and anyone will be able to access it via an interactive data portal hosted on civinomics.com.

To read the full plan click here. After you are done, be sure to vote below on whether or not the County should adopt the plan, and offer your comments.

 

Adopt the Santa Cruz County Community Strategic Plan to Prevent, Reduce, and Eventually End Homelessness

Adopt the countywide strategic plan to prevent, reduce, and eventually end homelessness.


Robert Singleton


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