Alameda County Homeless Population Less Healthy, Survey Shows
Homeless and "marginally housed" residents in Alameda County have high rates of serious health problems and other service needs, according to a survey conducted by a consortium of 45 agencies released Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Hoge, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/14). Researchers from the Alameda Countywide Continuum of Care Council carried out the "most comprehensive count ever of the county's homeless" and conducted interviews with 1,361 people in shelters, soup kitchens and other facilities, according to the Contra Costa Times. Officials plan to use the data to help develop a program to address gaps in housing, health, mental health, substance abuse and other services. According to the survey, 6,215 homeless people live in Alameda County and an additional 4,205 marginally housed people rely on emergency services (Brewer, Contra Costa Times, 5/14). In Alameda County, more than 60% of the homeless live in Berkeley and Oakland. Researchers found that the 835 homeless people in Berkeley have a "higher rate of disability and use services more" than those in other parts of the county, the Chronicle reports. Of the "chronically homeless" -- individuals with a disabling condition who have been continually homeless for at least one year or more than three times within three years -- 61% were found to be dependent on chemical substances, 30% had a mental illness and 21% had received services at a psychiatric hospital within the previous year. County officials said a countywide task force will use the data, which was collected in November 2003, to develop a 10-year plan to provide housing to low-income people with mental illnesses, substance abuse problems and AIDS. The planning effort is expected to last eight months and could include proposals for supportive housing and a detoxification center in Berkeley (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.