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

Program Outcome Statement

Creates community partnerships to promote housing stability and end homelessness.

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 K funding, the WeHOPE Shelter in East Palo Alto.

Percent of Homeless Clients in Transitional Shelters (HUD funded) that are Connected to Mainstream Services & Benefits

Annual Cost Per Client Receiving Safety Net Services

Number of Clients Served by Core Service Agencies

Number of Sheltered and Unsheltered Residents in Biennial Homeless Census

FY 2019-20 Mid-Year Story Behind Performance

Percent of Clients Residing in Homeless Transitional Shelters (HUD Funded) that are Connected to Mainstream Services and Benefits

81% of clients leaving transitional shelters are estimated to be connected to mainstream services and benefits, which is below the target by 5%. Strategies to meet the target include partnering with homeless service programs to (1) conduct technical assistance visits to review data trends and (2) coordinate case-manager trainings on strategies to help clients connect to benefits and increase their income.

Annual Cost per Client Receiving Safety Net Services

The objective of this measure is to achieve a cost-per-client value that is below the target amount. 

The estimated cost per client for FY 19-20 is $665, exceeding the target by $15 per client due to increased services, including new programs that are providing additional prevention, outreach, rapid re-housing and other services, many of which are funded with one-time Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) state-grant funding.

Number of Clients Served by Core Service Agencies

The estimated number of clients served by Core Service Agencies is 26,500, which meets the target. The “Core Service Agencies” are a network of 8 community-based programs that serve as the coordinated entry point to homeless services, including shelters and other homeless programs, and provide county-wide safety net services such as emergency financial assistance (rental/deposit assistance), food assistance, and referrals to a wide array of resources to help clients meet their basic needs.

Number of Sheltered and Unsheltered Residents in Biennial Homeless Census

The 2019 One Day Homeless Count found a 21% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness compared to the 2017 count, primarily due to increases in the number of people living in vehicles. HSA recently completed an in-depth RV survey, alongside community partners, to gather critical data about people who are living in RVs. The survey captured vital information on the needs, challenges, housing barriers, and service needs of those experiencing homelessness in RVs. HSA and community partners are beginning new services for this population, including expanded outreach and a Rapid Rehousing Program tailored to people living in vehicles.

Future Priorities

  • Continue Implementation of the Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, including an emphasis that individuals exiting institutions are not discharged to homelessness
  • Capital improvement and capacity expansion for current shelter operations
  • Assess and implement strategies for homeless households living in vehicles
  • Implement new homeless outreach strategies based on 2019 point-in-time count and other data
Author: Selina Toy Lee,                         Contact Email:                                    Last Updated: 01-27-2020
              Director of Collaborative Community Outcomes