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Annual Census Of Homeless People In San Diego Kicks Off

Homeless people stand among their items along 17th Street in San Diego, Sept. 19, 2017.
Associated Press
Homeless people stand among their items along 17th Street in San Diego, Sept. 19, 2017.
Annual Census Of Homeless People In San Diego Kicks Off
Annual Census Of Homeless People In San Diego Kicks Off GUESTS:Chris Ward, San Diego City Councilman Jonathan Herrera, senior adviser on homelessness coordination, city of San Diego

>> I Michael Lipkin in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Our top story is more than 1500 volunteers fanned out across the county before Don today trying to get a snapshot of the region's homeless population. The annual point in time count gets into federal officials. Last year the county reported a 5% increase in homelessness. Or the 9000 people lived on the streets, in vehicles or in shelters. One of the volunteers this morning was San Diego City Councilman, Chris Ward, who represents downtown. He is also the vice chair of the county's regional task force on the homeless. Councilman Ward, welcome. Exact figures from this -- from the scum will be available for a few months. >> I met 2 individuals and to the full survey on them. They were wonderful individuals on the streets of downtown that neither had a drug or alcohol addiction that they self-reported. Both of them had a minor mental health issue that was complicating their well-being and their ability to maintain secure housing and secure employment. Those kinds of information in those data points are critical for us as decision-makers to understand the population and best decide how to develop programs and direct resources. >> The people living in the cities 3 industrial tents get counted? >> They will be fully counted, yes. The entire County will be counted. It is really done 2 fold. We have 1500 volunteers as you mentioned that are out there looking at every census tracker, looking in alleys, looking index and crannies and on the streets to get an accurate count. You have others out there doing surveys and they can go to some of the homeless programs over the next 3 days actually and do full surveys to make sure we are not double counting and capturing more information. >> You mentioned those interviews, we'll be follow-up interviews? What is the task force one to learn from these tests -- follow-up interviews? >> Those follow-up interviews continue to contain some bits of information that I was capturing. Worse trying to understand basic demographics and other social issues common among the homeless population. Other attributes around housing and social needs that they may be interested in seeking and all that information will help inform us for investments want to make going forward. >> Some homeless people, they move around a lot at night. They don't feel safe, especially adolescence. What is being done to account for them? >> Youth count has been very challenging, historically. We know they are undercut and -- undercounted. We will try to reach out to them over the coming days to sites and programs they are known to frequent. One of our first questions is has anybody talk to you or counted you before? Were trying to go to them rather than find them in the dark at 4:00 him. >> Thank you. >> Jonathan Herrera is a senior advisor on homeless coronation for the city of San Diego. Jonathan, welcome to the program. >> Good afternoon. >> Told me about some of the people you met today. >> It's really an eye-opening experience every time you get the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations. I spoke with the Natalie woman who unfortunately been on the streets for the last 3 years, 2 of which were in Chula Vista, she had employment for peer of time but after her husband passing, crisis after crisis left her unable to provide for self. These are the type of stories that we hear day in and day out as we talked to homeless individuals. This gives us an opportunity to let them know that their stories count and there are people who care about them and where working together as a region to make sure we have the resources here in San Diego to address our growing homeless crisis. >> Why is the data collected so important? >> It is a federally mandated senses as part of the funds we received from HUD, Housing and Urban Development Department at the federal government. We conduct the homeless census on a yearly basis and is formally known as the point in time count. Is a factor that are taken in consideration determine funding levels. >> How do you use it at the city? >> Is one of many tools that we use to determine if the initiatives that we implement our successful? Are they resulting the reduction of are on shelter population? Are more individuals accessing the services? Are we able to more effectively transition individuals from the streets into a permanent housing setting? Since the point in time count is 2 fold, we do count of the individuals and more partly, the interview process which I participated in earlier this morning. We need a better idea of where these individuals are coming from, what led to their homelessness, how long they've been homeless, is array of questions to get a better understanding of the demographics and the natures of -- nature of the homeless population on the street. >> Mayor Faulkner is in Washington to see. What sort of homeless policies is he pushing there? >> It was very exciting yesterday. He joined several other mayors to emphasize the importance of focusing our attention and resources towards the growing homeless crisis. But at its core, the housing crisis. There will be a lot and it will continue to put forward initiatives that streamline the creation of additional housing at all levels, low income, market rate, permanent supportive housing, housing for homeless individuals, because that is what we will need at the end of the day to house these individuals. The mayor will continue to advocate for our fair share resources, the unfortunate reality is last year, we had the fourth highest homeless population in the country and we were ranked 16th in terms of funding. We will try to address that issue. >> Our partners have reported that 126 homeless people died last year. That is up 17% from 2016. The single biggest cause was drug overdoses. What initiatives are your workers working on to address these deaths overall? >> In our opinion, when death is too many. It is tragic for the 126 most portable San Diego ends had passed away on the streets. The hepatitis A outbreak highlighted the severity of the issue. It also provided us an opportunity to implement some initiatives that would provide safe, clean, sanitary locations for these individuals to reside. Having the ongoing conversation and partnerships witches developing with the County to ensure the services they provide for mental health and substance abuse is made available for the clients where saving. >> I just want to note that those debts do not include deaths from hepatitis A. Jonathan Herrera, thank you for being here. >> Thank you.

Volunteers Friday will conduct the annual census of homeless people living on San Diego County streets and shelters.

WeAllCount is the local name for the federally mandated effort to generate a one-day snapshot of people living on the streets or in short-term shelters in the region. The initiative helps the county secure federal funding for housing and other services.

New Database Aims to Track Homeless People in San Diego

More than 1,600 volunteers are expected to act as counters who walk the streets to count the homeless they see, and interviewers who guide the homeless through surveys, according to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, which organizes the effort. Follow-up interviews will be conducted through Jan. 31.


RELATED: Medical Examiner: Homeless Deaths On The Rise In San Diego County

Gordon Walker, task force chief executive, said there's a lot of pressure to execute the count each year because the data collected is so important.

"The federal government relies on the results from the county to determine how severe the problem is moving up or down in any single community," he said.

Last year, 9,116 people were counted living on streets or in shelters, a 5 percent increase over the year before. More than 60 percent of those counted last year were unsheltered, according to task force