A recent survey of San Diego County’s streets found an increase of almost 800 homeless people either living with or without shelter compared to last year.
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless compiled the data from this year’s homeless count. The data showed an 8.6 percent increase
The spike is partially due to an increased number of volunteers surveying the homeless population this year, said Peter Callstron, director of the task force.
However several factors are working against the homeless throughout the county, he added.
“We also know that many more people are now homeless due to the economy, lack of affordable housing, and the myriad personal issues that contribute to homelessness,” Callstron said in a statement.
The jobs and housing situations are easy targets for the increase in homelessness, said Herb Johnson, CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission.
While it's true that many who are homeless now were relying on several "menial jobs" to get by have since lost those jobs, there's more to the growth, Johnson said.
"The reality is, there's a significant portion of the homeless population with mental health issues," he said. "About 30 to 40 percent of the homeless in San Diego have mental health problems, and it's getting more expensive to take care of them."
Johnson also believes the actual numbers of homelessness in San Diego County may be even higher than reported. The volunteers who gathered the data did so on foot. Often, volunteers would be urged against looking for homeless individuals in places that may have compromised their safety.
However the good news in the data is that the number of those homeless individuals living in some kind of shelter rose 11 percent in the past year. On the other hand, Johnson noted, there are about 1,000 more unsheltered homeless individuals than shelthered.