San Mateo County makes huge strides to end homelessness this year

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area county is making a bold statement, saying it's on its way to ending homelessness.

The former Coastside Inn in Half Moon Bay now, along with two other sites and programs in the county, makes up 500 homes for people who used to be homeless.

"We've got two more hotels that are coming online and one very shortly in San Mateo, and then another one in Redwood City," said Mike Callagy, San Mateo's county executive.

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When future sites are done it will total up to 740 homes.

The last homeless census done in 2019 showed that more than 1,500 people in San Mateo County were homeless.

Though hundreds were in shelters, hundreds were also without any place to go.

Callagy says he's confident that the county will bring the number down to what he calls functional zero.

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"We're calling this the year to end homelessness in San Mateo County," Callagy said, "We're going to try our best to get there by the end of the year."

Though some of the hotels are permanent housing, others provide transitional housing that will get people into their own permanent homes, in turn freeing up those transitional rooms for other unhoused people.

"Transitional Housing is key, we know that good things happen when you get a roof over someone's head," Callagy said, "You can't provide them with those wraparound services, to deal with mental health issues, addiction, health issues, or joblessness, unless you have that roof over their heads."

So how was the county able to buy up these hotels?

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Callagy says a big portion of it was from the CARES Act, federal pandemic money given to the county, along with Project Homekey funds that the state distributed.

One of the many challenges still faced, will be maintaining that funding to keep the housing sites going.

"Hopefully the federal government and state will see the success that we're going to have here, that we've already experienced here and understand that this is a way cheaper way to proceed, and keep those dollars rolling," Callagy said.

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