What is Homelessness?
Being homeless doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the street. The definition includes people in emergency shelters or transitional housing, which provides temporary living arrangements. These are the sheltered homeless. In 2015, 29 percent of Monterey County’s homeless population was sheltered.
HOW MANY ARE HOMELESS IN MONTEREY COUNTY?
There were 2,308 homeless people counted in 2015. That number is down 11 percent from 2013.
Most, 90 percent, were 25 and older. The population broke down almost evenly along gender lines, 49 percent men to 50 percent women (1 percent reported being transgender). Nearly half — 47 percent — were white, while the next highest demographic was Latino at 35 percent.
WHERE DO THEY LIVE?
More than half of the county’s unsheltered homeless population lives in Salinas and Monterey — and Salinas has more than twice the number of homeless people than Monterey. The cities with the next highest populations are Seaside and Marina.
The largest concentration of homeless people in Salinas is in the Chinatown neighborhood, a 12-block area not far from downtown roughly bordered by North Main Street, East Rossi Street, Sherwood Drive and Front Street. The encampment there can see around 200 people on a given day.
Between 2013 and 2015, the census found a migration of homeless people from the Monterey Peninsula to Salinas. That could be because of the large concentration of homeless in Salinas, as individuals have a tendency to join encampments. Elsewhere in Monterey County, there are pockets of homeless people on beaches and freeway entrances.
WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Mainly, right here. According to the 2015 census, 78 percent of people who are homeless were living in Monterey County at the time they became homeless. Of that group, over half had lived here for more than 10 years.
WHAT CAUSES HOMELESSNESS?
It’s not just one thing. In fact, it’s often a combination of things. There are economic causes that start with the loss of a job. It could be mental illness, or drug or alcohol addiction. It could be a gay teenager kicked out of the house. These are just a few examples.
But the main factor seems to be a lack of affordable housing. Seventy-four percent of homeless people said the biggest obstacle to obtaining permanent housing was that they couldn’t afford rent. That’s up from 60 percent in 2013.
For additional information on this important issue please see:
(Safety message provided as a courtesy by Jo Anna Butron, Director of Security (831) 646-4099)
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