The San Mateo Board of Supervisors has awarded three cities in the county $2.4 million to help end homelessness.

With the grants, Redwood City and Millbrae will expand existing programs that steer individuals and families experiencing homelessness into shelters and services, a spokesperson for the county said. Half Moon Bay will provide a safe parking area, with hygiene facilities and outreach services for people living in vehicles.

According to the county, the funding will help just some of the 1,092 unsheltered residents living in San Mateo County. The money will assist with service providers to help people transition to interim or permanent housing. The grants will be supplemented with local funds and each city will report progress and performance metrics.

Redwood City will receive approximately $1.05 million to increase emergency shelter and emergency supportive housing capacity. It will also leverage state and city funding to expand intensive, coordinated, inter-agency homeless outreach through local nonprofit community partner organizations.

“Through this generous grant, Redwood City will be able to intensify civilian outreach, bringing a more personalized approach to our residents experiencing homelessness,” said City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz.

Safe parking and services

Half Moon Bay’s share will be nearly $1 million. The city and county will work with the non-profit WeHope to provide a safe-parking site there for individuals and families living in vehicles, along with showers, restrooms, laundry and other services. The program is expected to launch in 2023 with an aimed accommodation of ten vehicles at the start, with an average stay of 90 days.

WeHope will provide case management, connections to housing, employment and other services, the county said.

Half Moon Bay Mayor Debbie Ruddock said that the safe-parking program will improve the safety, health and quality of life of Coastside residents that live in vehicles.

“We’re grateful to the County of San Mateo for this crucial funding and partnership,” said Ruddock, “as well as WeHope and other involved nonprofits that work so diligently to provide substantial, practical help to those in need.”

About $370,000 will go to Millbrae, with a focus on unsheltered people living in the downtown area.

Homeless outreach teams in Millbrae will provide “rapid response and outreach” to serve and support homeless individuals with case management, including services that address mental health issues and drug and alcohol use. Individuals and families will receive shelter services, transportation assistance and referrals. It will expand on an existing program centered on the BART/SFO transportation corridor.

Challenge accepted

The impetus for the funding for all three cities came from a challenge announced in September to develop “bold and innovative solutions” to local homelessness. A six-member advisory committee recommended funding the three approved Dec. 13. Ultimately, the funding comes from the federal American Rescue Plan stimulus package, which was created to respond to the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities.

This year’s Point in Time count of people in San Mateo County experiencing homelessness found that 67 percent of that population is male and 32 percent female, with the remainder transgender or not singularly male or female. 30 percent of those surveyed lived in either their car or van, 26 lived in an RV, 16 percent lived in a tent or other encampment, and 26 percent lived on the streets. Ten percent were living in safe-parking areas and the remaining two percent listed “other.”