Homeless tent along Iron Horse Trail

Contra Costa County provides Continuum of Care for our homeless

Homeless tent along Iron Horse Trail
Unhoused along Iron Horse Trail in Concord. (Pete Cruz photo)

From the Desk of Karen MitchoffCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Nov. 15, 2021) — November is National Homelessness Awareness month, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share information about our county system of services for community members who are experiencing homelessness.

Because homelessness takes many forms, the county has a wide variety of supports to help folks who need it. Among them are street outreach, respite and emergency shelters, independent living programs for transition-age youth, and permanent supportive housing for adults, youth and families.

We serve homeless individuals through a Continuum of Care (CoC for short). It’s essentially a coordinated network of services and community-based organizations designed to help homeless folks move into permanent housing, with the goal of long-term stability.

A body of appointed community members called the Council on Homelessness governs the CoC, providing advice and input to the Board of Supervisors on the operations of homeless services, program operations and program development efforts in the county.

The council consists of 19 seats, including representation from homeless or formerly homeless persons, health care (including behavioral health), education, the faith community, government, housing providers, public safety, public housing authority, nonprofit homeless service providers and the Veterans Administration.

The Health, Housing and Homeless Division (H3) is the administrative lead agency for the Council on Homelessness. H3 is a part of our county Health Services Department and integrates housing and homeless services in our health system countywide. It is the key entity when it comes to deploying and managing the wide array of services that we have available to homeless residents.

CORE Teams

Among those services, one of the most visible is our Coordinated Outreach, Referral and Engagement (CORE) teams. They work in the field, contacting people experiencing homelessness and helping them connect with appropriate resources.

Community members can call 211 to reach CORE, and our H3 department will dispatch CORE staff to do outreach to the unhoused individual or family in need of support.

Calling 211 is also the entry point for referrals to other housing-related services, such as emergency food, shelters, health care and mental health treatment.

Near District 4, we are fortunate to have a Coordinated Assessment Referral and Engagement (CARE) Center to provide services. The Trinity Center is a walk-in hub for homeless services that is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1888 Trinity Ave., Walnut Creek. They assist with basic needs like showers, mail, food, case management and housing navigation.

Each element of Contra Costa County’s Continuum of Care is working hard to respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness and help our most impacted community members.

I hope that this information has been helpful in better understanding the services that we provide to unhoused individuals. As always, please feel free to contact my office with any questions at 925-521-7100 or by sending me an email at supervisormitchoff@bos.cccounty.us.

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV ­supervisor.