1. Call 2-1-1:The best way to get immediate assistance is to call 2-1-1. A trained staff person will ask you a few brief questions to understand your housing situation, help you to identify and solve any immediate housing-related problems, and refer you to resources you may need.
2-1-1 is a free, confidential phone number and service that provides easy access to housing support, and critical health and human services. The phone line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with multi-lingual capabilities. You can also access information online at 211alamedacounty.org.
2. Attend a Housing Workshop: Housing workshops are held each weekday in convenient locations across the County. Offered by trained staff, workshops cover everything you need to know about finding and keeping housing including: locating available housing and housing services, how to fill out applications, adjusting to permanent housing, good relationships with landlords, and more. There is also individual housing counseling available. For schedules and locations, visit BACS.
3. Get Legal Support: For legal advice about your housing, you can call the Legal Advice Line at 1-800-551-5554. This is a free legal hotline available to qualified low-income residents living in the Bay Area that operates Mondays & Thursdays from 9:30am-3pm and Tuesdays & Wednesdays from 9:30am-1pm. You can also visit Bay Area Legal Aid online at Bay Legal to learn about other legal services such as debtor’s clinics, getting help with healthcare bills, and support with public benefits.
4. Be Referred to a Housing Resource Center: Housing Resource Centers are housing service hubs across the County that focus on assessing, prioritizing, and connecting the highest need homeless individuals and families with services and housing. Services offered at Housing Resource Centers include outreach, assessment, prioritization, housing navigation, and streamlined access to a limited availability of shelters and housing programs. Although some HRCs have limited walk-in capacity or call-in hours, they are not designed as drop-in service centers. To find out if you’re eligible for a referral to a Housing Resource Center, call 2-1-1.
5. Meet with an Outreach Worker: Housing Resource Centers have outreach teams that are specifically trained to work with people who need additional support to access and navigate housing related services. Outreach workers can work with you on the street, in an encampment, or at a coffee shop if you’re unable to travel to a Housing Resource Center.
Alameda County is facing an unprecedented housing crisis, leaving many individuals and families without homes or living on the edge of homelessness. For low-income and extremely low-income people, the crisis is hitting especially hard.
- On a single night in January 2017, there were 5,629 people experiencing homelessness in Alameda County, a 39% increase since January 2015. (EveryOne Counts 2017)
- Of the 5,629 people, only 31% were sheltered on that night. 69% were unsheltered and living in places not meant for human habitation. There were 4846 adults, 270 family households totaling 711 family members, and 72 unaccompanied minors. (EveryOne Counts 2017)
- Rent in Alameda County has increased 29% since 2000 while renter household income has increased only 3%. Renters need to earn nearly 4 times local minimum wage to afford the median asking rent of $2,593 in Alameda County. (Alameda County Renters in Crisis: A Call to Action)
- Alameda County’s lowest-income renters spend 56% of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health expenses, and other needs. When housing costs are considered, Alameda County’s poverty rate rises from 12% to 17.6%. (Alameda County Renters in Crisis: A Call to Action)
- Cuts in federal and state funding, including elimination of State Redevelopment, have reduced investment in affordable housing production and preservation in Alameda County by more than $115 million annually since 2008, a 74% reduction. Alameda County needs 60,173 more affordable rental homes to meet the needs of its lowest-income renters. (Alameda County Renters in Crisis: A Call to Action)
The Housing Crisis Response System is Alameda County’s overall system of services and housing programs that are coordinated to end homelessness and respond to this unprecedented housing crisis. The Housing Crisis Response System works urgently to address housing crises for as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, across all regions of the County. The goal is for each and every individual or family that seeks assistance through the Housing Crisis Response System to have a safe, supportive and permanent place to live.
The Bay Area has one of the most expensive housing markets in the world with a very limited supply of affordable housing. Ending homelessness in the face of this economic reality requires both individual and community resilience as well as intentional planning, advocacy, and public policy. Alameda County’s Housing Crisis Response System is designed to operate on both the client-level and the systems-level: directly supporting people in crisis and mobilizing communities across the County to activate all personal, familial, community or public resources available to get and keep people housed.
Despite the extreme hardship caused by the high cost of housing, most individuals and families who experience a housing crisis are able to find a place to live in the private housing market, either in or out of Alameda County, and do not require on-going support to stay housed. Therefore, the Housing Crisis Response System does not aim to provide fully subsidized housing for everyone in crisis, and instead offers a combination of housing problem solving, one-time financial assistance, short-term rental assistance, on-going rental assistance, and support services to meet specific needs and create a diversity of stable housing opportunities throughout the private, public and non-profit housing markets. The Housing Crisis Response System includes landlords, owners, property managers, and developers, and offers a range of outreach and incentive programs to support these critical partnerships.
Coordinated Entry is the front door to the Housing Crisis Response System. The purpose of Coordinated Entry is to prevent or end homelessness for anyone experiencing a housing crisis by using a responsive, accessible, standard, fair, and equitable process. Offered through a network of countywide access points, Coordinated Entry serves people who are currently homeless and those at risk of homelessness in all cities and regions of Alameda County.
Coordinated Entry provides a standard and transparent way for the Housing Crisis Response System to effectively:
- Identify people in Alameda County who are experiencing a housing crisis and assess their needs
- Problem solve and mobilize immediate solutions to stay housed or find a safer and more permanent place to live without the need for on-going support from the Housing Crisis Response System
- Connect people to health, social, legal, financial services that are critical to resolving their housing crisis and that support on-going housing stability
- Comprehensively assess households with the greatest needs, then prioritize and match them to the most supportive services and housing programs for which they are eligible
- Manage a dedicated portfolio of countywide services and housing programs and assure that these resources are being used in the most effective ways and available to the people who need them the most
- Collect and analyze client and system-level data, and use that information to improve performance, inform policy, and strengthen advocacy to end homelessness
Coordinated Entry’s first objective is to prevent as many people as possible from entering or experiencing homelessness by supporting them to mobilize any personal, familial, community or public resource available to them. With focused and timely housing problem solving support, many people will find a way to stay in their current situation, some may move in with friends or family, and others may find housing in a more affordable location. This is how the majority of people will be stably housed after experiencing a housing crisis, and they will not require on-going support from the Housing Crisis Response System.
If the individual or family cannot find a way to solve their housing crisis, Coordinated Entry’s next objective is to use a fair and equitable process to assess, prioritize and match people to housing services and programs that are directly matched to within the Housing Crisis Response System. Services and housing programs that are matched to by Coordinated Entry are dedicated to the households with the greatest needs, who are the least able to get housed on their own, and in some cases, need on-going, intensive support to stay housed.
Housing Problem Solving is a core practice offered throughout Alameda County’s Housing Crisis Response System and anyone can do it! Whether a person or household is having difficulties with a roommate, behind on their electric bills, or having trouble staying on public benefits, there is often an immediate solution that can help.
Housing Problem Solving can prevent homelessness by supporting people to find solutions to problems that may be threatening their housing or to identify immediate alternate housing arrangements if they must leave.
For people who have already become homeless, Housing Problem Solving can reduce the time spent homeless by identifying and eliminating barriers to future housing. Housing Problem Solving may include a range of focused assistance such as mediation, roommate referrals, eviction prevention, getting an ID, clearing warrants, legal services, family reunification, move-in assistance, and flexible grants to assist with solving a housing related problem.