The inside of a Hayward homeless shelter.
The inside of a Hayward homeless shelter.
City of Hayward

California Responds to Homelessness and Housing

On January 25th, from 5 to 10 AM, an annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count was conducted throughout Alameda county. 

The PIT count is a census that collects information regarding the unhoused population in a city during the beginning of the year. They are all conducted on a singular day at a specific time. They are used to understand the needs of the unhoused community in addition to the primary causes of homelessness in a community. 

Other information gathered includes the living situations of unhoused people by surveying and interviewing them. The survey covers whether the unhoused are sheltered or unsheltered people. Unsheltered people are those who live in spaces not meant for human living. Sheltered people are considered those residing in shelters, safe havens and transitional housing. 

People may be in a situation where they are unable to find permanent housing due to affordability, job loss, escaping domestic violence, mental health or previous substance abuse. In 2023 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development counted an estimate of 181,399 unhoused people across the state of California. Hayward’s  PIT count for 2022 found 381 unhoused individuals, 114 which were considered unsheltered. 

Currently there are about 7 shelters in Hayward, a few of which are family shelters and do not allow male inhabitants over 18. There are additional resources such as an informational phone on site where you dial 211,  directing individuals to various resources including but not limited to housing and shelter options. 

The Hayward Housing Navigation Center built in 2019 directs people to resources in addition to providing short term housing. There are two social workers present on site who manage the needs of up to forty-five residents. Residents are able to stay for up to six months while they are aided in obtaining permanent housing and employment. 

In terms of affordability, according to Zillow, the median price for an apartment in Hayward is $2,400.  According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, about 38.1 million households spend a third of their wages on rent and the poverty line in California is an annual salary of $39,000 for a household of two adults and two children. 

State Assemblymember Liz Ortega is concerned about affordable housing within District 20.  Her district includes Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Union City, and some portions of Dublin and Pleasanton. “I think it’s availability, we definitely have a shortage for housing. The other one is affordability, making sure that people can afford it. Right now we’re in some of the most expensive housing markets in the country and people are having to work 2-3 jobs and they still can’t afford an apartment,” said Ortega.  

California continues to search for solutions to its housing problem. Proposition 1, which just passed on the March 24th primary ballot, aims to reform the mental health and addiction system in California by providing 6.38 billion dollars to build new facilities and change mental health/addiction services. This proposition would allow those services and the funding to be used for housing.  

In addition, Senate Bill 1011 would incentivize unhoused individuals to stay in a shelter while also banning encampments to be 500 feet away from schools, open public spaces and public transit stations. This bill has received support due to concerns surrounding public safety, and criticism concerning the availability of shelter space for the unhoused population.

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