For Dave, who has been homeless for two years, the draw of Half Moon Bay is no different than the throngs of tourists who flood the quaint beach town’s cafes and gift shops most weekends.
He likes the relaxed attitude, natural beauty and the proximity to both Santa Cruz and San Francisco, he said. More than a decade ago, he and his then-girlfriend had a mobile home near the beach. That was before everything fell apart through a combination of bad luck and bad decisions, he said.
On Thursday, Dave — who didn’t want to use his last name — was among dozens of homeless people and at-risk families who were connected with an array of service agencies that converged on the coastal community. The goal, said organizers, was to link people with whatever they needed — food stamps, bike repair, alcohol treatment, veterans programs, housing or medical services.
San Mateo County Coastside Connect was the second large outreach event put on by the San Mateo County Human Services Agency since May — the first was in Redwood City. The cities were chosen because their numbers of homeless people are disproportionately high to their overall population size, according to the preliminary findings of the county’s homeless census released in May. The events are modeled after a similar program in San Francisco.
The county worked with an outside agency to provide structure to its latest homeless census and it is considered to be more accurate than previous counts, said Wendy Goldberg, homeless services manager for the San Mateo County Human Services Agency.
Although Half Moon Bay’s total population is 12,250, its registered homeless population is 73 — not counting those in emergency shelters and transitional housing. It is higher than San Mateo or Daly City — both cities with close to 100,000 people overall.
Goldberg says Half Moon Bay is an attractive pit stop along state Route 1, and many people choose to stay in the area, often sleeping in their cars or on the beach.
For Dave, who was passing through on his way to Humboldt County, the city is a place to rest before getting back on his bicycle.
“Half Moon Bay is very laid back. They’re tolerant about resting for a day or two if you’re not breaking any laws,” he said.