The nation's third largest population of homeless people, roughly 28,000, reside in the Bay Area, and most of them are unsheltered, according to a study released Wednesday by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a research arm of the Bay Area Council.
If gathered in one place the homeless population would be as large or larger than that of roughly half the cities in the region, making it the third largest in the U.S. Larger homeless communities can be found in Los Angeles and New York.
The report offers up a number of interventions that could be implemented such as forming regional task forces or a new state Homeless Services Agency to coordinate efforts and funding across multiple layers of state and local governments.
"The Bay Area's homeless crisis is a regional humanitarian crisis that does not abide traditional local boundaries... One city, one county alone cannot solve homelessness, but that's largely how we've been approaching it," Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said in a statement.
The report found that diversion and prevention programs aimed at keeping at-risk residents in their homes are cost effective, compared to alternatives, and recommended providing more accommodations for the unsheltered.
Drastically increasing the availability of supportive housing, transitional units, shelter space and other options based on the region's current and projected needs would at least give people experiencing homelessness somewhere safe to go.
The report cites a number of successful efforts to house the homeless such as Tuff Shed villages in Oakland and rapid-rehousing programs San Francisco, as well as millions invested by the private sector, but points out they haven't yet solved the crisis.
The 44-page document can be found online at bayareaeconomy.org. It was commissioned to guide the Bay Area Council's work on homelessness and related issues.
The council is a public-policy-advocacy organization crewed by top executives for some of the largest employers in the Bay Area, representing more than 4 million workers. For more information go to bayareacouncil.org.