SAN DIEGO – On what’s expected to be the coldest night of San Diego’s winter, an inclement weather shelter alert was issued to help get vulnerable people off the streets in the chilly weather.
But there still were many people out on the city’s streets Wednesday night.
“Tonight is indicative of the fact that we, as a community, don’t have enough resources,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages.
The cold night in San Diego precedes the county’s annual point-in-time count Thursday. The annual count helps local leaders understand the size and scope of homelessness in San Diego County and boosts efforts to get more resources and funding from the federal government.
Despite increasing shelter and housing resources, Vargas said homelessness is still a big problem, especially when temperatures drop.
“It is absolutely dangerous to be out in the weather tonight,” he said. “People will suffer from hypothermia potentially and we know on any given year we have about 100 deaths on the streets of San Diego.”
On Wednesday, Father Joe’s Villages, a nonprofit agency that works to prevent and end homelessness in the community, added an extra 55 cots in its dining room to help people get out of the cold. The San Diego Rescue Mission added 10 more beds for the same reason.
The last time the count was done was in 2020, identifying around 7,600 people experiencing homelessness between those living in shelters or on the streets. Officials anticipate that this year’s total could be higher.
“It’s an opportunity where about 1,500 volunteers go out, believe it or not, go out and canvass the county, and they count people out in cars, the streets, the shelters,” Vargas said. “They all survey a good number of them and ask them specific questions about their homelessness situation.”