The Bay Area region is an extensive, interconnected metropolitan area with a vast network of public transportation that allows people to move across its nine counties easily. People routinely travel throughout– to and from work, to access services, or to change residences. Many more regularly rely on systems and services across multiple communities or inadvertently change jurisdictions as they transition in and out of neighborhoods, programs, institutions, and interventions – such as Rapid Rehousing – that often result in relocation across counties. As a result, trends in any single locality produce a resounding ripple effect across the entire region. Wildfires, the pandemic, the cost of housing, criminalization of homelessness, encampment strategies, and local policy: the circumstances and decisions of each jurisdiction, made in isolation, dramatically affect the whole region.
A regional understanding of homelessness can support development of innovative and targeted policies at many levels (local and regional) to respond to community needs and to the unique mobility of the Bay Area’s homeless population. A regional picture of homelessness can strengthen strategic resource allocation and deployment, as well as maximize efficient and effective use of limited resources.