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Alameda County declares state of emergency to combat homelessness

Following in the footsteps of the city and county of Los Angeles, Alameda County declared a state of emergency over homelessness this week as the number of unhoused people rises in the region.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the declaration at its meeting Tuesday evening.

“We’ve put a lot of resources and a lot of attempt and attention into this area and the numbers have only increased, especially since the pandemic hit us,” Supervisor Keith Carson said during the meeting. “Those of us who have been on the board for a while know that we have a long-term encampment right outside the front doors of the administration building…and so the seriousness of the situation is something that We all understand.”

The county saw its total homeless population increase from just over 5,600 in 2017 to more than 9,700 in 2022, according to the latest point-in-time count data.

The driving factor, according to this report, was the high cost of housing in the area. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Bay Area is over $3,000 per month, while the median rent for a studio is over $1,500 per month.

Additionally, 40 percent of unhoused people surveyed during the count said they had at least one “disabling condition,” such as psychiatric illness, physical disability, HIV or AIDS, or traumatic brain injury.

This week’s decision aims to cut some bureaucratic red tape by allowing “expedited hiring” of staff members, “expedited procurement of critical items” and a streamlined process for creating and approving housing, according to the emergency declaration .

The declaration also allows the county to request additional resources from the state and federal government.

Several other local governments have issued similar emergency declarations in hopes of expanding their capabilities to respond to the homeless crisis.

Shortly after taking office in December, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency and issued a directive aimed at eliminating bottlenecks slowing housing and affordable shelters.

In January, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved its own emergency declaration.

Carson verified the efforts of Los Angeles-area lawmakers in his remarks Tuesday night.

Last year, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved the “Home Together 2026” community plan, which calls for spending $2.5 billion over five years to eradicate homelessness in the county, reported Mercury News. It remains to be seen where the funding for this plan will come from.

Los Angeles Times

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