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San Mateo County receives $14 million grant to tackle homelessness crisis

San Mateo County, California – San Mateo County is set to receive nearly $14 million to initiate a program aimed at providing housing and support services to individuals living in small, scattered encampments from South San Francisco to Menlo Park along the Coastside. This funding, announced by Governor Gavin Newsom, is part of a broader effort to help those experiencing homelessness secure stable, supportive, or temporary accommodation.

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In addition to housing funding, there will also be financial support for behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, medical care, and case management. This information was shared in a county press release on Thursday. Mike Callagy, the Chief Executive of the county, stated that the grant aims to assist people living without shelter in places like encampments, under bridges, by streams, and along highways.

“We’re determined to get these people housed,” Callagy said in a virtual news conference hosted by the Governor’s Office. “Many of these people are living in tents and cardboard boxes – just think about what they went through during the recent storms.”

The county, along with its partners, plans to target over 200 individuals currently residing along key transport routes such as Highway 1 on the coast, Highways 92 and 101, El Camino Real, and Interstates 280 and 380. County officials note that many of these individuals have been homeless for over a year and suffer from mental illnesses, substance use disorders, or physical disabilities.

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The approach outlined in the grant application involves outreach teams meeting people directly where they live, aiming to deliver services directly to the field. Another part of the strategy is to remove the obligation for individuals and families in encampments to visit one of the eight Core Service Agencies—like Pacifica Resource Center, Coastside Hope, or Puente de la Costa Sur—to apply for housing or other services.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the county has increased its inventory of permanent supportive housing by 146 units and added 409 individual units. In their bid for the $14.1 million grant, county outreach workers will highlight the beneficial impacts of transitioning into housing or shelters. County officials explain that the engagement strategy will include both light-touch and intensive services, emphasizing that accepting shelter is voluntary.

“People want to see these tents and encampments removed but they want to see them removed in a compassionate and thoughtful way,” Newsom said in the press release. “This is a program that works.”

Warren Slocum, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, applauded Newsom for the partnership and support in addressing homelessness.

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“This is the kind of action we know is necessary and will ultimately help end homelessness in San Mateo County,” Slocum said. “Homelessness is a crisis that has been decades in the making – it’s not a crisis that we can take decades to remedy.”

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