People Sleeping On Streets In San Diego County Increases 14 Percent
UPDATE: 5:37 p.m.
San Diego County's homeless count in January found that 9,116 people were living in shelters or on the streets. That's a 5 percent increase countywide as compared to the previous year.
The unsheltered homeless population increased 14 percent countywide, while in the city of San Diego the number of tents increased 104 percent.
"Many of the unsheltered individuals living on the streets said they struggle with mental illness or addiction. And this report also shows that half of the survey respondents said they were incarcerated in the last five years," said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Faulconer said the increase of homeless living on the streets can't continue. He said a temporary assessment center with emergency beds will open later this year.
RELATED: Count Shows Unsheltered Homeless Growing In North County
"You have to get people off the streets, out of the tents, into a secure environment where they can get the help and the services they need," he said.
Organizers of the annual countywide tally of the homeless in the San Diego region are scheduled to release results of the January count Thursday.
The numbers quantify the scope of the problem for local officials and are used to determine the amount of state and federal funding provided to the region.
In 2016, 8,692 homeless were counted by scores of volunteers who fanned out across the region in the early morning hours. While the total was a slight dip from the year before, the number of those actually living on the streets soared 19 percent.
How this year's figures will compare is unclear. While the number of people sleeping on sidewalks in downtown and other areas appear at times to have increased, the results could also be affected by the impact of San Diego's wet and sometimes chilly weather this winter.
Our top story on midday edition. A group of San Diego readers -- leaders gathered downtown to announce the results of the annual point in time count. The cat was conducted in January by the San Diego County regional task force on the homeless. Joining me is KPBS reporter Susan murder -- Murphy who was at that announcement. Welcome. Thank you it is good to be here. Most homeless advocates had expected this to show an increase. Can you tell us what the point in time count found Unfortunately I have sobering figures to share with you. San Diego County's homeless population increased 5% citywide. That number is a snapshot but it is used because the count is conducted the same day every year so it is good comparison. The big story here is the number of people unsheltered living on the street sleeping on part inches and makeshift tents and sidewalks. That number jumped countywide 14%. Last year we saw a similar rise in unsheltered homeless that number was 19%. When leaders this morning used the word crisis that is a very visual reminder that we had a problem with the homeless situation. Are they living in downtown San Diego? That is the epicenter of the crisis. When you drive through downtown you can see this hope of resources and where the shelters are. Sidewalks -- sidewalks aligned with tents. The city of San Diego homeless we have that number. That rose 10% the number downtown specifically in the East Village this number is pretty shocking here it rose 104%. This is count containing any information about why the numbers have increased? Part of the issue is the surgeon homeless population that is converging with the County's housing crisis. We have a severe housing shortage that has led to the vacancies in is a high rent -- and skyhigh rent. People have housing vouchers but no way to use them. Affordable housing is nonexistent at this time. It is pushing more people onto the streets. As I understand it there was some good news about the number of homeless veterans. There is good news. Veteran homelessness decreased over 9%. The initiative to provide veterans with housing and wraparound services has really helped. That number has -- veteran homelessness has decreased 29% in the last five years. As I said one spot of good news is the number on the homeless veterans. Remind us how are these numbers from the homeless count -- how are they used. They are used to determine the amount of federal funding we will see if. That is distributed to our local governments and nonprofits and outreach groups so it is required and essential for helping us get out of this crisis. Who was at today's announcement. Was anything said about new initiatives to reduce the number of homelessness in San Diego. It was a powerhouse of city leaders and County leaders. Mayors from 18 cities Councilman and supervisors did talk about replicating the veteran housing initiative and they have made plans to increase hours Reporter: Permanent supportive housing and that will take a little bit of time but in the meantime the mayor told me he is working on some short-term plans of getting people off the streets and into facilities where they can be helped whether our services to help them to get them off of our sidewalks. Finally any information made that are learned from interviewing those on the streets. There were 77% of the who said they became homeless and are from San Diego. That is a pretty stark detail. 39% mentioned they had experienced a mental health episode and 31% reported being chronically homeless. We will hear much more of that any report later today. I have been speaking with Susan Murphy. Thank you so much. Thank you.