OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Declaring it a crisis without borders, a Bay Area business group is calling for a new, region-wide approach to tackling homelessness.
The group has issued a new report that even put a price tag on what it might cost to solve the problem.
“We solve problems on transportation, do thinking about housing or regional scale,” said Jeff Bellisario of the Bay Area Council. “It makes sense to think about homelessness at a regional scale.”
It is a problem beyond any city limit, and any one city’s ability to resolve it. The Bay Area Council called for a “new day” in the approach to homelessness, estimating that the Bay Area homeless population has risen to 28,200. The new report declaring homelessness a regional crisis.
“The bigger problem in the Bay Area is the unsheltered population,” explained Bellisario. “67 percent of those people are in shelters. That’s the problem we see on the streets today.”
And people across the region are seeing it on nearly every corner of the Bay Area. The ubiquity of the problem, from San Jose to the Russian River, is a well-established part of the story line.
The people behind the report say it’s time for the region top mobilize accordingly. The research also suggests a lot of the people that need help are not stationary, often slipping between the cracks of various support systems.
“To really be strategic about aligning our limited resources, we have a lot of room for improvement,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Schaaf played host to the meeting, held in a neighborhood on the front lines of this crisis. She says there needs to be be better cooperation between government agencies and other non-government entities.
“The commitment of the business community to helping to solve this problem — to recognizing that humanity and compassion is good business — is really important. Especially in the Bay Area,” said Schaaf.
The Bay Area Council looked at what it costs to house the homeless across the Bay Area, and calculated that housing all 28,200 homeless in the Bay Area would cost approximately $13 billion.
The plan calls for fast tracking affordable housing, creating task force groups to see how the Bay Area can better coordinate the efforts on a city and county level and achieve better results for the money already being spent.