San Diego’s homeless census underway

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SAN DIEGO -- The annual early-morning tally of the homeless in San Diego County is scheduled Friday, with more than 1,500 volunteers planning to roam downtown and suburban areas to see how many people are living on the streets or in shelters.

The results of the census are a major part of how much funding is received from the federal government to pay for homeless services.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other city officials contend that San Diego is short-changed in the current federal formula, and doesn't receive the money it needs to pay for the nation's fourth-largest homeless population.

“We have to change that formula,'' Faulconer said. “That's something that we are united on, not just here locally, but with our congressional delegation, as well.''

Based on 2015 results, it was estimated that there were 8,742 homeless people in San Diego County -- some on the streets and some in shelters -- an increase of 2.8 percent from the prior year.

A surveys of the homeless found that more than 70 percent had been homeless for at least one year, almost 28 percent were afflicted by drug or alcohol addiction or severe mental illness, nearly 27 percent had no health insurance, and more than 45 percent had visited an emergency room in the previous year.

On Wednesday, the San Diego Housing Commission and several other community organizations served 1,215 people at the Project Homeless Connect, providing them with food, clothing and services like haircuts and legal aid. The total was 70 more than last year.

Next week, Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts plan to introduce a plan to bring more intensive services to homeless people with serious mental health issues. Project One For All will include all 18 cities in the region and community organizations.

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