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San Diego Advocates Respond To Increase In First-Time Homelessness Increase

Homeless tents are shown lined up downtown Diego, April 26, 2021.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Homeless tents are shown lined up downtown Diego, April 26, 2021.

The Data and Performance Analysis of the region’s Homelessness Crisis Response System for 2020 prepared by The Regional Task Force on the Homeless shows the number of people entering homelessness for the first time nearly doubled from 2,326 in 2019 to 4,152 in 2020, with a spike between April and June.

The report says this is likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Michael McConnell, a homeless advocate, thinks this number is higher for another reason.

Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

“The increase in touch points. So if you put more outreach people if you have more day centers or more shelters, things like that, you’re going to connect with more people,” McConnell said.

Reported by Melissa Mae

When the San Diego Convention Center opened for temporary housing during the pandemic, city officials boasted about the number of homeless people served.

RELATED: Report: First-Time Homelessness Up In San Diego County

McConnell believed the homeless were more open to participating in this program because "when you lower the barriers, when you make it more appealing to somebody then you are going to get people who are more likely to use your system.”

The report also found in 2020, 2,530 veterans were in a shelter or had been on the street.

Mia Roseberry co-founder of Wounded Warrior Homes knows the need for veterans and even active duty military has grown.

“The veterans will never ask for help. They feel that if they ask for help they are taking it from other people, so they don’t like to ask for help," Roseberry said.

With the report, San Diego County is showing more transparency about the current homeless situation.

Increased funding from the federal government through the CARES Act, state funds, and philanthropic funding are continuing to provide new resources for shelter and other assistance during the pandemic.

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Photo of Melissa Mae

Melissa Mae
Freelance Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a freelance reporter, I cover a wide variety of stories. One day I may cover the current COVID-19 situation and the next day my story may be about a San Diego landmark. With a background in sports broadcasting, any time I get to cover a sports story is an added bonus! I love covering stories about the place I am lucky enough to call home, San Diego.

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