Homelessness & Housing Insecurity

74% of the County’s Homeless are Living Unsheltered

Rising rent or mortgage costs, foreclosure, loss of a job, or simply not having enough money to afford the high upfront costs of renting or buying are challenges that can force many families into living conditions they would not choose otherwise. Living doubled- or tripled-up due to economic constraints can place stress on personal relationships, housing stock, public services, and infrastructure. When shared housing is not an option, the result can be homelessness. This indicator measures housing security in San Bernardino County by tracking the demand for rental assistance and public housing, the number of public school students who are homeless or have insecure housing arrangements, and the point-in-time homeless count.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Due to high demand and low supply, most residents seeking a rent subsidy from their local Housing Authority will wait many years before the opportunity arises:

  • In 2018, there were nearly 29,000 households waiting for a rental assistance voucher.1
  • A monthly average of approximately 8,494 households currently receive a voucher.
  • The supply of vouchers remains limited because housing authorities have not had the opportunity to apply to the federal government for additional housing vouchers since 2003.
  • In addition to voucher rental assistance, demand for affordable public housing is an estimated 37 times higher than available supply. 2

Supply and Demand of Rental Assistance Vouchers and Public Housing

San Bernardino County, 2018
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Sources: Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino and Needles Housing Authority

Approximately one in 12 school age students have insecure housing:

  • In the 2018/19 school year, 32,355 San Bernardino County K-12 students were identified as homeless or lacking secure housing, representing 8.0% of total enrollment.3
  • Among homeless and housing insecure students, 92% are living doubled- or tripled-up in a home due to economic hardship, 4% live in motels, 2% live in shelters, and 1% live unsheltered in cars, parks or campgrounds.

The San Bernardino County Homeless Count and Subpopulation Survey is an annual census of the number of people experiencing homelessness in a 24-hour period in January. 4 The 2019 Point in Time Count revealed the following:

  • 2,607 people were homeless, which is 23% more than the 2,118 homeless counted in January 2018 and 40% more than the 1,866 homeless counted in January 2017.
  • Fully 74% of the homeless counted in 2019 were unsheltered. The remainder were sheltered in some type of housing for the homeless.
  • 745 seniors (defined as age 62 and over) were living unsheltered.

Primary Nighttime Residence of Students Identified as Homeless or Housing Insecure

San Bernardino County, 2010-2019
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Sources: California Department of Education, according to information provided by school districts on their Local Education Agency Reporting Form Title 1, Part A and Homeless Education Consolidated Application (2013/14-2015/16); San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (2016/17-2017/18)

1Rental assistance in the form of Housing Choice Vouchers, or a similar voucher program that subsidizes rent for a voucher recipient, enables recipients to seek housing in the private market from landlords who will accept the vouchers. The voucher subsidizes the recipient’s rent. 2Public housing can take the form of apartment complexes or houses that are owned by a government agency and rented at a subsidized rate to income eligible recipients. 3The federal law that governs the identification of homeless and housing insecure school-age students (McKinney-Vento) includes those who are living unsheltered as well as those housed in shelters, motels or hotels, or living doubled- or tripled-up due to economic hardship. Totals do not add to 100% due to rounding. 4The point-in-time estimates of homelessness are based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development definition of homelessness, which only counts individuals living in homeless shelters or living unsheltered in a place not intended for human habitation.