County’s homeless population increases 2.8%

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SAN DIEGO — The annual count of the homeless in San Diego County found 8,742 people living on the streets or in shelters, a 2.8 percent increase over last year, the San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council announced Thursday.

The council, an umbrella group of nonprofits and government agencies that oversaw the Jan. 23 count, said nearly 4,600 were living in shelters, with the rest on the streets. Of those who were unsheltered, 70 percent were men and 15.4 percent were military veterans.

“The results of the WeAllCount census prove that more must be done to help end homelessness in our region and we still have a long way to go to reach that goal,” said San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, who chairs the RCCC.

“The RCCC’s efforts over the past year to better utilize our limited funding will help move more people off the streets, and we need to more strongly advocate for an update to the antiquated federal funding formula for homeless services so we can secure sufficient resources to address this growing issue,” Gloria said.

The councilman said the census helps the region secure around $16 million in federal funding.

Among other survey results specifically for those living on the streets:

— more than 70 percent had been homeless for at least one year;

— almost 28 percent suffered from either drug or alcohol addiction, and/or severe mental illness;

— nearly 27 percent had no health insurance, and

— more than 45 percent visited an emergency room in the past year.

Nearly 1,500 volunteers — including numerous elected officials — took part in the count, according to Dolores Diaz, executive director of the Regional Task Force the Homeless, which organized the count on behalf of the Continuum of Care Council.

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