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Number of Homeless Families Grows in San Diego, Nation

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Aired 6/20/11

San Diego and the nation have seen and increase in the number of homeless families.

— An annual report on homelessness from the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows the number of homeless people in families climbed 20 percent from 2007 to 2010, that was even as homelessness across the country declined by 3.3 percent over the same period.

A similar trend in San Diego County is taxing available resources, according to Peter Callstrom, executive director of San Diego's Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

“There are only so many beds that accommodate a family unit, so I know there’s waiting lists in order to accommodate the need," he said. "But we don’t have it in every region of the county that has shelter beds specified for family units, so I know that they’re all tremendously challenged.”

An annual survey done by the task force shows a 19 percent increase in the county’s homeless population since 2008. This year about 9,000 people were counted sleeping on the street or in the county’s temporary shelters during a single night in January.

Callstrom said the trend isn't good, but without the three-year federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program, it would likely be worse here.

“Over the course of just the first half of this project already over 3,000 families and individuals have been served through that new program," he said. "So there could be as many as 3,000 additional individuals and families out on the street.”

The homelessness prevention program matches families and individuals at risk of becoming homeless with services before they are out on the street. Its funding was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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