STOCKTON -- San Joaquin County is experiencing record numbers when it comes to homelessness.
Citizens don’t have to look far to see the growing issue of homelessness in their region. If it seems like more people are living on the streets, that’s because they actually are. A new study shows the homeless population in the county has nearly tripled in the past two years.
"Between 2017 and 2019, we saw the number of unsheltered homeless in San Joaquin County increase from about 567 to about 1,558," said Chairman Jon Mendelson, who sits on the board of the San Joaquin County Continuum of Care.
There are more people living on the streets in San Joaquin County than ever before and experts say the cost of living there is playing a major role.
"And it’s not just the chronically homeless," Mendelson said. "There are people with incomes who are on the streets, families with children. People who have jobs more and more are finding themselves on the street because their incomes aren’t keeping up with the increase in housing or increased cost of living."
The board of Continuum of Care brings city and county leaders together to work toward local solutions for homelessness.
"We have three general strategies that we’re embracing," Mendelson told FOX40. "We need more shelter space so that people can get off the streets. We need more permanent housing at all levels of affordability, so people can actually afford a home, and we need more robust homeless prevention efforts to keep people off the streets in the first place."
While city and county leaders are working together to address the issue, they’re also encouraging people who live and work in the county to do their part too.
"Dedicate time or energy to organizations that are already addressing this, so there are successes, there is work that’s being done. We just need to increase the capacity of the system right now," Mendelson said.
The Stockton City Council and San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors are holding a rare joint meeting Thursday night at 6, dedicated to discussing the issue of homelessness. It will be open to the public. One item on the agenda is a resolution to end veteran homelessness in the county completely by the year 2030.