SAN DIEGO — For the tenth straight month, more people continue to fall into homelessness faster than they can be housed by San Diego County programs, according to new data from the Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
January data released by the agency showed that approximately 4,141 people entered homeless support programs, while 663 found housing. Of those that enrolled in services, approximately 1,211 people were reported as experiencing homelessness for the first time.
The Task Force reports that last month about 27,000 people engaged with county homelessness services, including outreach programs, shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing. The agency reports that is about a 4% increase from December.
This comes as the number of homeless individuals living in downtown hit a record high last month in the area’s sixth straight month of population growth, according to data from the Downtown San Diego Partnership.
“This is a crisis that extends beyond San Diego’s borders,” Dave Rolland, deputy director of communications for Mayor Gloria, said in an email to FOX5SanDiego.com in response to the Downtown San Diego Partnership findings.
“The programs Mayor Gloria has initiated are working,” he continued. “However, as the Regional Task Force on Homelessness reported late last year, for every 10 people who get off the streets and into housing, 13 others fall into homelessness. That’s why the Mayor is leaning into homelessness prevention.”
The majority of the 663 people who exited homelessness last month were able to find housing on their own, according to the Task Force’s report. Only about 100 people housed were able to do so through permanent affordable housing.
This trend, Task Force CEO Tamera Kohler told Voice of San Diego, indicates that some who fall into homelessness just need brief services — like a place to stay in the short-term, engagement in a transitional program or temporary rental aid — as opposed to more intensive, long-term programs.
While city and county leaders have made progress in expanding some of these options, the pace at which people continue to fall into homelessness is worrying to advocates, as the demand for services still exceeds available offerings, making it more difficult for people experiencing homelessness to access.
The Task Force reported that last month about 758 people were added to the queue for housing programs through the county’s Coordinated Entry System, a database used to track services for unhoused people engaged with programs.
“City leaders open a shelter for 30 people, then 300 to 400 people are added to the (unhoused) count,” homeless advocate Michael McConnell said to FOX5SanDiego.com earlier this month about the unhoused population growth downtown. “None of this is done to scale. They’re nibbling around the edges.”