The Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) found 7,619 homeless San Diegans live in the county, and those numbers are being used to best direct resources during the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced Tuesday.
The task force -- a group of government and nonprofit stakeholders committed to preventing and alleviating homelessness in San Diego -- conducted its point-in-time count over three days beginning January 23 to collect the data.
Nearly 1,800 volunteers including 500 county employees took part in the event,
which found a 6% reduction in the homeless population from the 2019 numbers.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer touted a 12% decrease in the unsheltered population,
“They’re the most visible representation of the homeless population so to see that number decrease is encouraging news," he said. "It’s further proof that the city if San Diego is continuing to lead with real solutions on the statewide crisis.”
Faulconer also reported a 5% increase in the sheltered population within city limits, which he called good news.
"It indicates we are getting more people connected to services that help end the cycle of homelessness," he said.
The event, also known as WeAllCount, had volunteers and outreach workers interview unsheltered individuals using the mobile Counting Us application and geographical information system technology. The introduction of the system this year allowed the task force to analyze data in real-time and distribute resources in the community.
Task force officials said they have begun using this data to aid in the COVID-19 response and will continue to use it to advance regional best practices.
"The RTFH's person-centered approach to the annual point in time count has given the San Diego region the tools and information to inform all aspects of addressing homelessness,'' said San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward, chair of the task force. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, these best-practices and new technology have delivered more accurate, actionable data to Public Health Officials and have allowed outreach workers to specifically target at-risk homeless individuals for life-saving services. This data will continue to be analyzed in our ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.''
The point-in-time count has been used in the past to develop San Diego's Community Action Plan on Homelessness and implementation of best practices.
This data has also helped to determine the placement of several hand washing stations, the number of high-risk unsheltered individuals in need of additional services, and the opening of the temporary homeless shelter at the San Diego Convention Center.
"The information gathered during this annual count is critical in our
fight to tackle homelessness in San Diego County,'' said Supervisor Nathan
Fletcher, vice chair of the task force. "With this data we can secure more funding to support our homeless outreach strategies and deliver critical mental health, substance abuse and housing services to people living in our region without shelter.''
According to this year's count, there are approximately 3,971 unsheltered individuals and 3,648 sheltered but homeless throughout the county.
Out of the total unsheltered population, 8% are veterans, 17% are chronically homeless and 8% are unsheltered youth.
"Since the count and in response to COVID-19, hundreds more who were
living on the streets have found shelter in the San Diego Convention Center and
we enacted an eviction moratorium to help prevent folks from losing their home
in the first place,'' San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. "We will keep working day and night to overcome this pandemic and help even more people find shelter and housing in the process.''