County homeless population up 19%, task force reports

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Homeless man

SAN DIEGO — A countywide tally of San Diego County’s homeless in January found almost 19 percent more people living unsheltered compared with last year, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless reported Friday.

The WeAllCount Campaign, also known as the Point-in-Time Count, found a total of 8,692 people living on the streets or in shelters, a 0.6 percent decrease from last year.

Within the total, though, was a mix of bad and good news.

On the down side, 4,940 people were living without a roof over their heads, 18.9 percent more than in 2015. The RTFH said the 1,676 volunteers who took part in the predawn count on Jan. 29 found a 69 percent rise in people in tents or hand-made structures.

Progress was seen in other areas, including a decrease of 16.2 percent in all veteran homelessness, a 12.6 percent decline in unsheltered families and a drop of 13 percent in chronic homelessness.

“While the increase in the number of unsheltered homeless persons is disappointing we are seeing reductions in veteran, family and chronic homeless in our community,” said Dolores Diaz, the task force’s executive director. “These reductions would not have been possible without the partnership of homeless service providers and targeted federal, local, state and private resources.”

The results of the annual count help set state and federal funding levels for local programs, and can be used by San Diego officials to prioritize strategies for getting the homeless off the streets.