Human Services Agency: Homeless and Safety Net Services (7510P)

Program Outcome Statement

Coordinate the delivery of supportive safety net services through community partnerships to promote housing stability and food security for individuals, families, and communities.

Program Services

Through contracts with community partners, the Human Services Agency (Agency) coordinates the following:
  • Emergency safety net services such as information and referrals, food, rental, utility, and transportation assistance
  • Emergency shelter and transitional housing


The Homeless and Safety Net Services program administers contracts with community-based organizations. These collaborations maximize County and Federal funding to address the seasonal and distinct geographical needs of the County.
Since 1976, San Mateo County has partnered with community-based organizations, known as Core Service Agencies, to provide an array of emergency and support services to County residents struggling to meet their most basic needs, such as shelter, food and clothing. There are currently eight Core Service Agencies which work in close collaboration with the Agency to provide assistance to individuals and families to stabilize their living situations, provide crisis intervention, financial assistance, and referrals based on evaluation of needs and qualifications for assistance. In addition, the Agency contracts with providers to operate three year-round emergency shelters: Safe Harbor Shelter in South San Francisco, Maple Street Shelter in Redwood City, and through Measure A funding, the WeHOPE Shelter in East Palo Alto.

Percent of Homeless Clients in Transitional Shelters Connected to Mainstream Services Meets Target

Annual Cost Per Client Receiving Safety Net Services is Increasing

Percent of Food Assistance Requests Met by CORE Service Agencies MeetsTarget

Number of Sheltered and Unsheltered Residents in Biennial Homeless Census is Decreasing

FY 2017-18 Year End Story Behind Performance

Percent of Clients Residing in Homeless Transitional Shelter (HUD Funded) That Are Connected to Mainstream Services and Benefits

Connecting to mainstream services is a key component of assisting homeless clients in returning to housing as quickly as possible, based on his/her specific needs, barriers, and resources. Shelter case managers offer intensive services to assist their clients with accessing mainstream benefits, such as CalFresh, health coverage, and other programs. In FY 17-18, 87% of clients graduating from transitional shelters were connected to mainstream services and benefits, exceeding the target of 85%. The Human Services Agency and its partner providers will continue to implement strategies to connect clients with mainstream benefits and employment services to assist them with returning to permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Cost per Client Receiving Safety Net Services

 The cost per client at year end is $363 for homeless and safety net services, which falls under the target of $600. The cost per client increased from the previous year, as several new initiatives became fully operational in FY 17-18, including Rapid Re-Housing, Shelter Diversion, and Coordinated Entry. Additional services were implemented in FY 17-18, including adding capacity at the Maple Street Shelter to serve additional homeless adults. These investments contribute to preventing homelessness and working toward a functional zero level of homelessness.

Percent of Clients Receiving Food Assistance from CORE Service Agencies

In FY 17-18, 99% of clients who requested food at a Core Service Agency received food assistance, meeting the target of 99%. The eight Core Service Agencies, which served 24,927 individuals this fiscal year and are located throughout the County, provide safety net services including food assistance, homeless prevention services, referrals to homeless shelters, and a variety of other services to help vulnerable residents. The Core Service Agencies collaborate with key partners such as Second Harvest Food Bank and will continue to explore additional strategies to ensure that community members in need of food assistance are connected to food resources.

Number of sheltered and unsheltered residents in biennial homeless census

On the morning of January 26, 2017, the Center on Homelessness coordinated the San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count. The 2017 count was conducted with approximately 350 volunteers, consisting of community-based providers, members of the public, and County staff, assisted by homeless guides. The 2017 count determined that there were 1,253 homeless people in San Mateo County on the night of the count, comprised of 637 unsheltered homeless people (living on streets, in cars, in RVs, in tents/encampments) and 616 sheltered homeless people (in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs). The results show a 16% decrease in the overall homeless count compared to 2015, with the largest decreases in the numbers of people living in the streets and in encampments.

Future Priorities

  • Continue Implementation of the Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, including an emphasis that individuals exiting institutions are not discharged to homelessness
  • Implement the Coordinated Entry System for all populations
  • Increase assessment of needs for homeless individuals living in vehicles

Author: Selina Toy Lee,                         Contact Email:                                    Last Updated: 08-27-2018
Director of Collaborative Community Outcomes