SJ's new public dashboard details progress, problems addressing homelessness

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
New public dashboard details homelessness in SJ
San Jose's new Homelessness Program Dashboard highlights the city's homeless response, designed to focus on the outcomes of different strategies.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose's new Homelessness Program Dashboard is live. A total of eight slides highlight the city's homeless response, housing options, programs, and funding. The data is focused on the outcomes of different strategies.

"I think the way to begin to turn the corner on this crisis is to be very clear, very transparent about what we're trying to do to address the crisis," Mayor Matt Mahan told ABC7 News. "Where the dollars are going and how those programs are performing. And to hold ourselves to a higher standard of tracking and reporting."

Mayor Mahan said it's a start. Dashboard updates are expected to reflect results, including the number of people served, how resources are received, and how many people have stayed housed.

For advocate Shaunn Cartwright with the Unhoused Response Group, she's critical of the newly published stats which compare county metrics. She points specifically to data on where people go once they leave temporary shelters.

MORE: Advocates call for action after SJ ranked top major US city in homeless youth per capita

"74% of the people, the city has no idea where the people went," she explained. "And that's a fail. Just a complete and total fail."

While 2021 to 2022 numbers reflect only 2% returned to homelessness, Cartwright is convinced the 74% in question have, too.

"A lot of those people are disabled people, a lot of those people are families, a lot of those people have medical conditions," Cartwright said. "A lot of those people are the 250 people a year that die on the streets."

Cartwright is referring to her annual tombstone project. The visual representation marking every death of an unhoused person that year.

VIDEO: Makeshift tombstones mark annual memorial of unhoused SJ residents who have died

Makeshift tombstones were displayed in San Jose to serve as a visual reminder of the hundreds of homeless people who have died on South Bay streets.

"We're struggling with homelessness," Mayor Mahan said. "I don't think that's any mystery. And we shouldn't try to spin that. We should just be very clear about what we're currently doing, where the dollars are going, how well it's working, and then make clear what we've learned from that and what we're going to try differently in the years ahead."

"It's very basic," he said about the dashboard. "We're starting with a few screens, some charts and graphs that show where money's going, the performance of those programs. My hope over time is to make clear the efficacy of different strategies."

According to the dashboard and based on last year's Homeless Census and Survey, more than 6,000 people are unhoused in the city. More than 10,000 are unhoused across the county.

"Much like when we follow the coroner's dashboard to see how many people have died and how fast people are dying this year, we can use this as a metric to see whether the city is rising or falling to take care of our unhoused people," Cartwright told ABC7 News.

"I think we will find that plenty of things we do are not as effective as we hoped," the mayor added. "I think we'll find that other things that we do are working pretty well, and we should double down on them."

To be redirected to the City of San Jose's Homelessness Program Dashboard, click here.

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