Data Points

Counting emergency shelter beds for the homeless

(Photo courtesy of City Team San Jose)

The number of emergency shelter beds for the homeless are far fewer than the number of homeless people in each Bay Area county, except for Sonoma County, according to data from January 2019. 

Sonoma County counted 2,951 homeless persons in January 2019, and had 2,551 shelter beds. That compares with 8,011 homeless in San Francisco who are vying for 1,963 beds. 

Here’s how the counties rank by number of beds.

1
1. Sonoma County — 2,551
2
2. San Francisco — 1,963
3
3. Alameda County — 1,169
4
4. Santa Clara County — 736
5
5. San Mateo County — 611
6
6. Contra Costa County — 474
7
7. Solano County — 240*
8
8. Marin County — 190
9
9. Napa County — 96
1. Sonoma County — 2,551
2. San Francisco — 1,963
3. Alameda County — 1,169
4. Santa Clara County — 736
5. San Mateo County — 611
6. Contra Costa County — 474
7. Solano County — 240*
8. Marin County — 190
9. Napa County — 96

“There are definitely not enough beds in San Francisco,” said Olivia Glowacki, project coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco. 

Every day, about 1,000 people are on the waiting list for a bed, which one person can use for 90 days, Glowacki said. A person at the bottom of the list waits an average of 54 days for a bed, she added. 

Glowacki said some drop-in centers are open at night when someone can get a bed for one night or sleep in a chair, but otherwise homeless people suffer on the street.

*An unofficial count

Source: Bay Area county officials, Coalition on Homelessness