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Shelter Need Outstrips Supply for County’s Homeless

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Aired 10/27/10

More than 10,000 people spent a night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing in San Diego County between October 2008 and September 2009. Homeless advocates estimate thousands more need beds.

— More than 10,000 people spent a night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing in San Diego County between October 2008 and September 2009. Homeless advocates estimate thousands more need beds.

Even so, about 4,850 individuals and 400 families that need shelter in San Diego County this year will not get it, according to a report released today by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

The 2010 Regional Homeless Profile includes data from a one-night count in January that showed the county’s homeless population grew by about 600 people between 2009 and 2010.

Task Force Executive Director Peter Callstrom said the weak economy has driven more people of every demographic into the street. But, added new programs are emerging to serve them.

“There is hope. We do have some exciting initiatives in place like Registry Week and others around the county that really are succeeding," said Callstrom. "So, the numbers are unsettling, but we’re not overly discouraged, we’re going to find ways to make inroads.”

During Registry Week in September volunteers interviewed downtown San Diego's homeless community. They counted more than 1,000 people on the streets downtown. The most vulnerable were matched with services like transitional housing and mental health treatment.

About 40 percent of San Diego County's homeless population is made up of families. Three out of four children in those families are elementary-school aged.

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