2016-2017 Fiscal Year 
  Annual Report

  Contra Costa County
Homeless Continuum of Care

Homelessness is first a housing issue, and necessary supports and services are critical to help people remain housed. Our system must be nimble and flexible enough to respond through the shared responsibility, accountability, and transparency of the community.

--Contra Costa Strategic Plan to End Homelessness

Letter from the Chair of the Council on Homelessness

Reflecting back at the 2016-17 Fiscal Year, I am impressed by the tremendous work and commitment to address and alleviate homelessness within Contra Costa County. The County’s Continuum of Care (CoC) and the Council on Homelessness continued to be leaders in adopting best practices and innovative approaches. It is exciting to know that the CoC successfully launched Phase One of the Coordinated Entry System (CES).

CES streamlines the process for homeless individuals and households to access the services needed to secure the right housing, with the right level of services. Phase One focused on building the infrastructure for our crisis response system by creating three dedicated points of entry: 211, CORE (Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement) Teams, and CARE (Coordinated Assessment and Resource) Centers that offer enhanced services such as housing navigation services and extended hours that transforms it into a Warming Center throughout the night.

As the CoC continues to build its capacity to serve a growing number of people in crisis, the need for additional affordable housing in the Bay Area becomes more obvious. Without a steady supply of new affordable housing, it will be impossible to fully address and alleviate homelessness. Federal and State resources are helpful to provide and maintain affordable housing, however, those sources of funds have been reduced over the last five years and are no longer provided at the scale necessary to address the lack of supply.

As we enter the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, the CoC will continue its work to identify creative and effective solutions for establishing more affordable housing opportunities. The CoC will also move into Phase Two of CES to more effectively screen, triage, and provide resources to those newly homeless in efforts to divert them from entering the system of care.

On behalf of the Council of Homelessness, I would like to express my gratitude for the service providers and partners working together to end homelessness in our county. 

Gabriel Lemus,
Chair Contra Costa Council on Homelessness

Local Housing and Shelter Needs

The Bay Area is one of the most expensive regions in the world to live and work. Our County has a housing crisis that demands our immediate attention. Lack of affordable housing in Contra Costa County negatively affects our citizens and economy. Government lawmakers and fair shelter advocates call housing “affordable” when a household pays no more than 30 percent of its total income for housing costs.

--Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report 1614

Median rent in Contra Costa has increased 25% since 2000 while median renter income has decreased 3% when adjust for inflation.

Contra Costa County lost 66% of state and federal funding for housing production and preservation from FY 08-09 to FY 15-16.

Contra Costa County needs 30,939 more affordable rental homes to meet the need of very-low and extremely-low income residents.

On any given night, there are 1,607 people experiencing homeless in Contra Costa County.

Shelter capacity met only 48% of the need for those in housing crisis during the 2017 Point in Time Count.

30% of people identified in PIT Count were experiencing their first episode of homelessness.

Contra Costa's Homeless Population: The Data

All consumers that utilize Continuum of Care services; either for prevention, homeless services, or permanent supportive housing, are entered into the Homeless Information Management System (HMIS). This data allows us to understand the diversity of the population served by the CoC. The community served during Fiscal Year 16-17 is described below:

6,015 homeless   +   1,057 at-risk   +   1,022 formerly homeless

Demographics for Literally Homeless

Race and ethnicity

44%   African American
38%  White
  9%   American Indian/
          Alaskan Native
  6%  Multiple Races
  3%  Other Race
17%  Latino/Hispanic


   418    veterans
   640    families with minors
    514   seniors (62+)
 1,045   chronically homeless


Gender identity

3,303   males
2,696   females
     16   transgender or

Disabling conditions

66%   have a long-term
32%   mental health
22%   have chronic health

City Data

Every city in Contra Costa County is affected by homelessness. While it is more visible in some communities, the system of care serves people that have lost housing in every city across the county. The Annual Point in Time Count (PIT) data and Annual Service data are used to understand important characteristics of the population experiencing housing crises in the county.

1,607 people are homeless each night in Contra Costa County.

The Point in Time Count provides a snapshot of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given night. Data was collected for January 25, 2017. Surveys were conducted at service provders and community settings that serve individuals experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness including soup kitchens, libraries, homeless shelters, CARE Centers, CORE Outreach, mental health clinics, and the Contra Costa Crisis line (211).

City data is collected for those individuals that slept outside the night of the PIT Count CORE Outreach also generates a GIS map  in Google Maps to illustrate where unsheltered individuals sleep across the county. City data can be filtered in the graph below the map.

The bar graph below includes only those cities with one or more people identified as sleeping outside on the night of the PIT Count.

Intake data is gathered for all people that utilize services in the Continuum of Care. Every consumer is asked their last permanent address. Eighty percent of those served lost their housing in Contra Costa County. The graphic below illustrates how many of those that lost their housing were "newly identified" relative to those who have been utilizing the CoC services for three years or more.

The bar graph below includes only those cities with 50 or more people served in the CoC. Data for all cities is available in the filter box to the right of the bar graph.

Making Progress on the Strategic Plan

In 2014, Contra Costa’s CoC updated its Strategic Plan. Forging Ahead Towards Preventing and Ending Homelessness has three key strategies: 1) implementation of an effective Coordinated Entry System, 2) utilizing performance standards to determine needs and program impacts, and 3) establishing effective strategies for communicating to wide range of stakeholders.

Coordinated Entry

Coordinated Entry is being implemented in multiple phases, with an initial focus on enhancing the crisis response system through 211 services, CARE (Coordinated Assessment REsource) Centers, CORE Teams (Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement), a warming center, an evidence-based housing assessment tool and housing navigation services. CES is described in greater detail further in this report.

Performance Standards

The CoC submits annual Performance Measures to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Performance measures, PIT data, and annual service data guide local efforts and help with advocating for greater housing resources. Full reports may be found on the Health, Housing, and Homeless Services website.


Multiple communication strategies were put into place to raise awareness about CoC activities and resources, as well as the local housing crisis and its impact on community members. Communication efforts included: H3/CoC website re-designcommunity presentations, quarterly newsletters, social media efforts, and homeless awareness month activities.

Coordinated Entry in Contra Costa County

A Coordinated Entry System (CES) streamlines access to housing and services while addressing barriers and delivering the right resources to the right people, at the right time. Contra Costa County began planning and implementatingCES during FY 16-17. Initial activities included 1) adoption of an evidence-based housing assessment tool to determine risk and prioritization for housing services; 2) CoC-wide housing placement meetings to identify the most vulnerable, based on housing assessment scores, for Permanent Supportive Housing units; 3) system-planning for further prioritization for services across the continuum.

The CES model in Contra Costa County has three access points (211, CARE Centers, and CORE Outreach) that any individual or family can access to obtain services. These programs identify, assess, and refer people to appropriate services based on their needs. Permanent housing may include non-subsidized rentals, supportive housing programs, board and cares, friends and family. 

Coordinated Entry System is designed to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Since the launch of CES, there has been a “population shift.” Program staff have recognized this, and the data demonstrates it.

The population has changed. We have more severely mentally ill, people addicted to substances, people with life-long trauma.

                                                   -CoC Service Provider

CES by the Numbers

People served by CORE: 1,126
Housing assessments completed: 1,822
People housed since CES kick-off: 716
211 calls related to housing crisis or assistance: 5,287
People served at CARE Centers: 1,797

CES Implementation Timeline During Fiscal Year 2016-17

The Coordinated Entry System has been implemented in multiple phases as many system-wide changes were put into place. Key strategies or program elements were implemented in the Fall and Spring (listed at the right), The illustration below represents on-going meetings with CES committees and sub-groups are listed as well.

Feels like we're all in this together.

                                                              -CoC Service Provider

Fall 2016
   3 county-wide CORE Outreach Teams
   Warming Center
   4 CARE and CARE-Capable Centers

Spring 2017
   4 Housing Navigation sites
   CES Policies and Procedures Drafted and Adopted
   VI-SPDAT Training (housing assessment tool)
   2 additional CORE Outreach Teams 

Federal and State Funding for Homeless Services

COC Homeless Assistance:
  Permanent Housing: $11,360,739
  Supportive Services: $1,217,035
  CoC Planning: $323,602
  Data Management: $175,596

US Department of Veteran Affairs:
  Support Services for Vets: $2,759,129

CA Dept of Social Services:
  HousingWorks: $1,440,869

Emergency Solutions Grant:
  Emergency Shelter: $374,803
  Prevention/Rapid Rehousing: $337,678
  Outreach: $100,000

Funding Allocation across the CoC

New Housing Resources and Services Established in 2016-17

114 Permanent housing slots for families, 34 HUD VASH rental vouchers for veterans,
  5 CORE outreach teams, 4 Housing Navigation sites,  4 CARE/CARE Capable Centers, 1 Warming Center

Spotlight on CORE Outreach

A primary emphasis of a coordinated entry system is to engage those not yet served by the CoC—those individuals that never have or no longer access services. This ensures that resources are genuinely allocated to those most vulnerable, based on a housing assessment that determines the breadth and depth of services necessary to sustain housing. During 16-17, three County-wide teams, a Pleasant Hill/Martinez team, and a Public Works team were established.

Contra Costa Continuum of Care Partners