Community input considered in new 5-year plan to end homelessness in South Bay

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Ending homelessness is a critical part of Building a Better Bay Area. On Thursday night, Santa Clara County community leaders and members met to create a new five-year plan to end homelessness.

The South Bay community packed a room at the Roosevelt Community Center on East Santa Clara Street.

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Back in 2015, community leaders across the County launched their first community plan to address the issue. Coming to the end of that five-year mark, Thursday's meeting gave the community a chance to refresh, consider what's been accomplished and address what more needs to be done.

"This is all about making sure the community understands the crisis at its core is deeply affordable housing," Ray Bramson told ABC7 News.

Bramson is the Chief Impact Officer at Destination: Home, a public-private partnership serving as the backbone organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness across the County.

ABC7 News asked how Bramson would measure the success of the initial Community Plan.

He answered, "We've got thousands of units in the pipeline. Voters in 2016 approved County Measure A which was a $950-million affordable housing bond that has funded nearly 2,000 new apartments and homes for vulnerable people."

Bramson admitted, "There's a lot of successes to talk about, but there's also a lot of work to do."

"We know what it takes to end homelessness: housing," Bramson said. "Now, we're trying to look at those underlying factors. What's causing homelessness? What's pushing more and more people out onto the streets every day?"

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"We're really here tonight to hear from the community," he continued. "Hear about the impacts, talk about some of the solutions we're considering, and seeing where they can fit in, in contributing to make a difference."

San Jose resident, Kathryn Hedges is one of many who has found themselves on the cusp of homelessness.

"People wouldn't be losing their apartments over missing a paycheck if the rent wasn't 90-percent their income," Hedges told ABC7 News.

She's lived in Santa Clara County for nearly a decade, and only recently has she had to sacrifice treatment and much more to stay off the streets.

"I'm not taking my asthma medication because I can't afford it," Hedges explained. "I don't know how I'm going to pay my debts down."

So, she and dozens of others showed up, ready to strategize.

"I don't know how much this individual conversation will change things," Hedges admitted. However, she's committed to being part of the solution.

Guests broke up into small groups where they discussed strategies like increasing the capacity and effectiveness of housing programs, addressing the root causes of homelessness through system and policy change, and improving quality of life for unsheltered individuals and creating healthy neighborhoods for all.

Ideas discussed Thursday will be considered in a new five-year community plan, meant to build a better Bay Area.

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Thursday's meeting was the second of three, open to the Santa Clara County community.

The last meeting will be held on Thursday, October 10, 2019, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation- 2440 West El Camino Real #300, CR MV3 Coast Redwood, Mountain View, CA 94040.

To register, follow this link.

The meetings are hosted by the Santa Clara County Continuum of Care, in partnership with the City of San Jose, the County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing, Destination: Home, and other community stakeholders.

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