20% of the nation’s homeless population live in California, which is higher than any other state. While some might dispute this is due to California’s large geographic area, it is important to note that only twelve percent of the nation’s population lives in California (Source: 2014 Annual Homeless Report). Furthermore, California has one-third of the nation’s chronically homeless population (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
One reason for this discrepancy is the high costs of housing throughout California. “Nearly 1.6 million low-income California renter households paid more than half of their income for housing in 2013, and this number has risen 28 percent since 2007” (Ibid). Of the 58 counties throughout California, 14 counties have 46% or more of their low-income renters paying more than half their income for housing (46%-52% is the highest category listed). Unfortunately, Solano County is one of those fourteen counties, thereby putting low-income residents at a greater risk of becoming homeless as they are unable to afford rising housing costs (Source: The State of Homelessness in America 2016). Median home prices in Solano County increased seven percent between May, 2014 – May, 2015 (Source: Daily Republic).
Solano County conducts a survey every year to get a “Point-in-Time” snapshot of the number of homeless individuals. As of January 2017, there were 1,232 homeless people in Solano County, up from 1,082 in 2015. Of those, 74% are unsheltered and 59% have been homeless for a year or more. 86% were residents of Solano County prior to becoming homeless.
91% of those surveyed said they would like permanent housing. The top two reasons given that led these individuals to becoming homeless was losing a job and/or being evicted.
Of those surveyed for the 2015 Point-in-Time report, 67% stated that the inability to afford rent was an obstacle to obtaining permanent housing, yet 87% of survey respondents said yes when asked if they would want safe, affordable permanent housing if it were available. Part of this problem is aggravated by the facts that the unemployment rate in Solano County is 23% higher than the national average (AreaVibes) and the cost of housing is 93% higher than the national average (Sperling’s Bestplaces). With the cost of housing being as high as it is, the lowest wage required to live on in Solano County is $11.60/hour, or $2,011/month. However, 46% of 2015 Point-In-Time respondents said their monthly income was only $449 or less.