San Diego

How Much Money Is Spent On Homeless Services In San Diego County?

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on homeless services in San Diego County each year, according to a data analysis completed by NBC 7 Investigates and Voice of San Diego.

As homelessness continues to increase across the county NBC 7 Investigates and Voice of San Diego wanted to help you see how money is being spent to combat the growing issue.

For nine months, we met with local government financial experts and submitted public information requests to local agencies. Our requests asked for homeless spending data for the fiscal years 2015 and 2016. The data represents a range of costs associated with homelessness, including rental assistance, transitional housing, health services and clean-up costs.

A couple of highlights from the data include:

  • Jurisdictions in San Diego County have collectively spent more than $630 million in the past two fiscal years to combat homelessness. The county provides just over half the funds, with the San Diego Housing Commission, which serves the City of San Diego, accounting for a little less than half. The other, roughly two percent of the funding, comes from individual cities throughout the county.
  • Housing initiatives account for $535 million, or almost 85 percent, of the total spending. Rental assistance for homeless and at-risk populations make up about 90 percent of housing funds, with the rest going to programs that include transitional housing, emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing.
  • Homeless Services represent almost $100 million, or 15 percent, of the total cost. About $50 million of that goes to fund mental health services, and $40 million goes to fund drug and alcohol programs.

We were able to obtain data from San Diego County, City of San Diego, the San Diego Housing Commission and seven other smaller cities in the county: City of Oceanside, City of El Cajon, City of San Marcos, City of Encinitas, City of Vista, City of Chula Vista and City of Carlsbad.

We have broken down these costs into categories and by the agency in the interactive above. We encourage you to click on the different shapes above to see where and how the money is being spent. You can send any story ideas to and

Mobile users click here to interact with the data.

Click here to see a master spreadsheet of the data collected.

These numbers aren’t perfect but are the best estimates we were able to obtain. For example, San Diego County included its entire rental assistance budget in its homeless spending figures, but, not all who receive rental assistance are formerly homeless. In addition, we were unable to obtain specific dollar figures from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department, both of which perform duties related to homeless services.

An additional note: Because the San Diego Housing Commission gets funding from the City of San Diego’s general fund in addition to federal dollars and revenue from leasing its own properties, we subtracted the City of San Diego’s general fund contributions to SDHC from the SDHC budget to show how much of funding the City of San Diego is spending on homeless services. 

To see more detailed budgets for the City of San Diego, including a breakdown of how much money went from the city's general fund to the San Diego Housing Commission click here for FY15 and click here for FY16.

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