Homeless solutions discussed at annual county-city meeting in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been more than three and a half years since San Jose and Santa Clara County embarked on a holistic approach to homelessness, inviting nonprofits and corporations into the solutions-building process.

In an annual meeting Monday, Mayor Sam Liccardo praised progress but acknowledged that there's more to do. Despite housing 7,000 people since 2016, the homeless population continues to grow.

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"A much cost-effective solution is always upstream from the problem and if we are able to get more resources up stream, before people are homeless, we know we can avoid a lot of misery and reduce the cost of addressing the crisis," said Liccardo.

The meeting was also a chance to assess what's working. Nonprofit Destination: Home presented their success story -- a pilot project that has helped more than 500 households on the brink of homelessness with quick loans, legal help and other forms of support.

The pilot project is going into its third year this July. It's being studied by the University of Notre Dame to determine long-term success.

To date, 97 percent of households in the program have remained in their homes.

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Elena Rivera, who was also at the meeting, was homeless for six years. She was living in the jungle, at one point the largest homeless camp in the country, before it was shut down in 2014. Despite her nerves, she showed up to share her story to provide insight on the solutions that make the most sense.

"Housing first, they need a foundation to prosper from, I'm all about housing first," she said.

She also iterated the importance of supporting people as they transition from the streets into a new home.

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