SAN DIEGO — A local organization is continuing its federal requirement in counting people experiencing homelessness. The Regional Task Force on Homelessness released a staggering set of numbers for San Diego County.
For the first time, the task force is reaching people experiencing homelessness on Caltrans property. This led them to find 661 more people.
There was a 22% increase in homelessness in the San Diego region from the previous count in 2022.
The task force conducted the count. Their CEO, Tamera Kohler, said the count will hopefully develop better policies and procedures for people without a home.
There are faces behind the numbers.
“You can’t pay the bills, you can’t pay for rent, you have to go somewhere, somewhere is here,” said Christopher Dubois, who’s been experiencing homelessness for 1.5 years in San Diego.
Dubois is from Maine. He used to move furniture for a career until he developed blood clots in his legs.
“I had three pulmonary embolisms in my chest and arms, had a mild stroke, and therefore couldn’t work anymore,” Dubois said.
For a year and a half, he has lived on the streets of San Diego and in shelters.
“And now I’m back on the street,” Dubois said.
“It’s sobering but not surprising, based on what we see every day,” Kohler said.
The tssk force used more than 1,600 volunteers and a mobile app with geomapping to help make sure counts are not duplicated.
Volunteers found more than 10,264 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.
This includes 5,171 people unsheltered and 5,093 people living in shelters and transitional housing.
Kohler said, “helps us understand trends and demographics of individuals and really the depth and breadth of the challenges of the population.”
“It’s a daunting task but we know what we need to do. We need more adequate and appropriate shelter. And we need more housing that folks can afford,” Kohler said.
“The rent here is inflated to the point where I would have to have six of my buddies combined to afford rent here. Even on the low level,” Dubois said.
Mayor Todd Gloria said the numbers reinforce the need for an encampment ordinance. Gloria said he encourages other cities to follow suit.
“Actually house their own individuals who are becoming unsheltered, rather than passing them on to the city of San Diego and to our taxpayers to provide for,” Gloria said.
However, the task force said a ban on camping could mean more challenges.
“People don’t go away. We are pushing them out into areas that make it harder to connect to connect to services,” Kohler said.