Following L.A.'s footsteps, Alameda County declares state of emergency on homelessness

Following in the footsteps of the city and county of Los Angeles, Alameda County this week declared a state of emergency regarding homelessness amid rising numbers of unhoused people in the region.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the declaration during its meeting Tuesday night.

“We’ve invested a lot of resources and a lot of attempts and attention to this and the numbers have only increased — especially since the pandemic has hit us,” Supervisor Keith Carson said during the meeting. “Those of us who’ve been on the board a little while, we know that we have a long-term encampment right outside the front doors of the administration building … and so the seriousness of it is something that we all understand.”

The county saw its total homeless population swell from a bit more than 5,600 in 2017 to more than 9,700 in 2022, according to the latest point-in-time count data.

The driver, that report said, was the region’s high cost of housing. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Bay Area is more than $3,000 per month, while median rent for a studio is more than $1,500 a month.

Additionally, 40% of unhoused individuals surveyed during the count said they had a least one “disabling condition,” such as a psychiatric condition, physical disability, HIV or AIDS or a traumatic brain injury.

This week’s move aims to cut through some bureaucratic red tape by allowing “accelerated hiring” of staff members, “expedited procurement of critical items” and a streamlined process to create and approve housing, according to the emergency declaration.

The declaration also allows the county to request additional resources from the state and federal government.

Several other local governments have issued similar emergency declarations in hopes of broadening their abilities to respond to the homeless crisis.

Shortly after assuming office in December, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency and issued a directive aimed at clearing bottlenecks slowing development of affordable housing and shelters.

In January, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved its own emergency declaration.

Carson name-checked the efforts of Los Angeles-area lawmakers in his remarks Tuesday evening.

Last year, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved the “Home Together 2026” community plan, which calls for spending $2.5 billion over five years to eradicate homelessness in the county, the Mercury News reported. It remains to be seen where the funding for that plan will come from.


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