Amid the pandemic, Bay Area nonprofit organizations are stepping up to help people in need of food and shelter. In this article, we look at the work of LiveMoves and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley.
Second Harvest of Silicon Valley supports communities that are underserved
Committed to ending hunger, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley distributes food throughout the community. Focused on collaborating with other organizations, Second Harvest leverages its resources to deliver nutritious food, the foundation for a healthy and productive life.
Even before coronavirus reached Silicon Valley, Second Harvest struggled to meet rising levels of food insecurity in the community, delivering groceries to record numbers of people each month. The economic impact of Covid-19 has pushed more US families deeper into poverty, resulting in food and housing insecurity. In addition, it has led many people to seek out assistance in obtaining food and shelter for the first time in their lives.
Today, Second Harvest provides food to 500,000 clients each month, which is twice as many people as the organization served prior to the pandemic. Living in Silicon Valley can be expensive, forcing many people to choose between eating or paying their bills. Second Harvest provides healthy and nutritious food to anyone in need.
LifeMoves helps people in need to secure stable housing
Through its 100-unit interim housing community, LifeMoves serves approximately 124 clients with a focus on helping them to return to stable housing. On average, clients stay in LifeMoves’ interim housing for between 90 and 180 days.
At full occupancy, LifeMoves’ Mountain View facilities provide immediate interim housing for more than 20% of the local population experiencing homelessness. For more than 30 years, LifeMoves has operated as one of Silicon Valley’s largest agencies providing services to people experiencing homelessness. LifeMoves helps more than 2,000 people out of homelessness on an annual basis, while simultaneously addressing the immediate needs of over 1,200 unhoused clients every night and day.
The organization connects clients with addiction services, mental health care, benefits information, job placement resources, and classes on a variety of topics, including financial literacy and parenting.
Every person who stays at LifeMoves has their own private room with a lockable door. All units have power, windows, and personal storage. LifeMoves offers a safe, welcoming, and dignified environment for people experiencing homelessness, delivering intensive case management services with a commitment to helping all of its clients to find long-term solutions and overcome homelessness.
More than a half-million people are experiencing homelessness
According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual point-in-time count, as of January 2019, more than half-a-million people in the United States experienced homelessness on any given night. With the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating homelessness, we explore the issue in various states and examine those organizations that help people in need.
According to Statista, the following US states reported the highest rates of homelessness in 2019:
- District of Columbia (93 per 10,000)
- New York (47 per 10,000)
- Hawaii (45 per 10,000)
- California (38 per 10,000)
- Oregon (38 per 10,000)
- Washington (29 per 10,000)
- Massachusetts (27 per 10,000)
- Alaska (26 per 10,000)
- Nevada (24 per 10,000)
- Vermont (17 per 10,000)
Alabama and Virginia reported a rate of homelessness of seven per 10,000 people, while Louisiana had a rate of six per 10,000 people. Mississippi reported the lowest rate of homelessness, with only four per 10,000 people.
Families account for 40% of the population experiencing homelessness
People experiencing homelessness are society’s most vulnerable demographic. According to a federal government report published in September 2019, rent control has priced many people out of their homes, with permissive policies exacerbating the problem. According to the report, people without a connection to a faith community or church were 60% more likely to experience homelessness.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development defines homelessness as the lack of a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”
Increased incidence of mental illness among people in need
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2018 annual homeless count, more than 111,000 people experiencing homelessness were affected with severe mental illness. In addition, more than 86,000 of them experienced chronic substance abuse.
In addition, HUD reported that among US adults who accessed shelter services at some point in 2017, 44% had a disability. HUD also noted that 9% of the people experiencing homelessness had served time in prison or at a correctional facility.
Nearly half of the people experiencing homelessness in the US are in California
Approximately 47% of US citizens experiencing homelessness are in California. Four out of the five American cities with the highest rates of homelessness, namely San Jose, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, are located in California. The only other US city that is in the top five is Seattle.