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Santa Clara County Outlines Ambitious Plan to End Homelessness

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- The largest county in the Bay Area unveiled its boldest and most aggressive plan to end homelessness on Thursday following success in reaching its 2015 goal to shelter the vulnerable population.

"I think I would describe this community plan as necessary from the crisis we're facing in our community," said Destination Home chief operating officer Ray Bramson.

Santa Clara county leaders said last year they had counted nearly 10,000 people who didn't have a home and predicted that in the next five years as many as another 20,000 would become homeless.

The plan, by Destination Home, is to house 20,000 people within half a decade as well as to address the factors that cause homelessness. Bramson said they also want to reduce the number of those who are on the brink of losing their home by 30% a year by expanding prevention services.

Measure A, an affordable housing bond that was passed by voters in 2016, would help fund the project. Bramson said the success of the project would come from the entire community's help and that it would take hundreds of millions of dollars. He said the next step would be to ask for financial help from cities in the county, the county itself and private companies.

When asked whether voters would be asked again to pass funding for the project, he said that it would "take an all-hands-on-deck approach."

"For every one person that we house, three more people are becoming homeless," said Bramson. "We've got a lot of work to do. Housing is a cost-effective solution to our city so, for every dollar we invest, we're saving tens if not hundreds of dollars."

In 2015, the county had a goal to end homelessness by creating 6,000 housing opportunities. Bramson said they more than doubled their goal by housing about 14,000 people.

But the vulnerable population has grown significantly since then.

Donald Ventura said he has been homeless for 15 years; some of that time in San Jose.

"Everything started to fall apart," said Ventura.

He used to work as a landscaper before he lost everything. Now he sleeps in a tent off Story Road.

"It's rough because of the environment," Ventura said.

He said the county's plan is a good idea. Yolanda Domino, who lives off of Story Road, agrees. She's been homeless for so long that she's lost count of the years. She said the county lacks resources to help many of the homeless back on their feet again.

"Out here it's just too expensive, just way too expensive and I can't afford it," Domino said.

Both she and Ventura said they would welcome housing. Their only question is, when can they move in?

"Yes, we want the housing unit," said Ventura. "But that's going to take time."

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