SAN DIEGO — The Downtown San Diego Partnership, which counts the number of homeless living in downtown San Diego monthly, showed a record number in November.

In downtown San Diego alone, 1,706 unsheltered are estimated to be living on the street, in tents and in cars.

In November 2021, there were 1,124 estimated homeless living in downtown San Diego. This brings the average number of homeless in 2022, so far, to 1,485, up from 961 in 2021.

The partnership also breaks down the number by location within downtown, as follows:

  • East Village: 760
  • City Center: 235
  • Columbia: 33
  • Marina: 44
  • Cortez: 114
  • Gaslamp: 54
  • Outside Perimeter: 466

A representative from San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office said in a statement:

“Since day one, Mayor Gloria has been unwavering in his focus to get people off the street. The Mayor has dramatically expanded the city’s homelessness response system – more so than any other administration prior. This includes opening new homeless shelters, increasing the availability of homeless beds by 40%, and creating more places for people to go who are living in their cars,” stated Dave Rolland, Deputy Director of Communications for Mayor Todd Gloria’s office in an emailed statement Monday afternoon.

The mayor’s team claims that “while the city is successfully getting people off the street and into permanent housing every day, the fact remains that more people are falling into homelessness than the region’s homelessness response system can serve.”

“As the Regional Task Force on Homelessness recently reported, for every 10 people that we house in our county, 13 fall into homelessness due largely to sky-high housing costs. The Mayor intends to make an announcement about policies to address this in the coming days. He remains committed to the ultimate goal that ends homelessness: a roof over the head of every San Diegan at a price they can afford,” Rolland said.

Bob McElroy, president of the Alpha Project, says that he has spent the last three decades getting people off the streets in San Diego.

“I’m always trying to be enthusiastic and positive but wow, even some of our best efforts just don’t seem to be enough,” McElroy said.

McElroy says he feels like he’s swimming upstream with the shelters he operates being full and not enough services.

“My first time in 37 years that I’m feeling down and discouraged, another study just came out in San Diego that shows for every 10 people we get off the streets, 13 more people take their place,” McElroy said. “It just seems like a tidal wave that doesn’t seem to be settling down.”

McElroy said the current situation from COVID, inflation and high rent prices is a perfect storm that many people haven’t been able to weather, which forced them into homelessness.

“There’s a chronic need for additional withdrawal beads in San Diego,” said Dr. Jim Dunford with the McAllister Institute who previously served as San Diego Fire and Rescue’s Medical Director and has seen the homeless problem transform in the last several decades. He adds the services at the McAllister Institute can’t keep up with the demand.

“The demand is up, the acuity is up, fentanyl is just this tremendously vexing this that we are dealing with all the time now,” Dr. Dunford said.

All three advocates agree something needs to be done, fast.

“If you want to solve homelessness you have to get housing and services for folks,” McConnell said.