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San Diegans entering homelessness continue to outpace those exiting homelessness, report finds

San Diego Police and San Diego Urban Corps cleared out one block of homeless tents on 9th Ave next to the downtown Post Office at 8:00 AM, San Diego, September 1, 2023.<br/>
Matthew Bowler
Signs posted by San Diego police at 8 a.m. on Sept. 1 tell homeless people to remove their belongings or city officials will throw them into the trash.

The number of people in San Diego County falling into homelessness continues to outpace the number of those exiting into housing, according to data from the Regional Task Force on Homelessness released on Friday.

According to the RTFH, on average, between September 2022 and October 2023, 10 people found housing for every 16 people who experienced homelessness for the first time. During the previous 12 months — September 2021 to October 2022 — 10 people found housing for every 13 who experienced homelessness for the first time.

More than 1,000 fewer people experienced homelessness in the region for the first time during the 12 months the data was collected compared with the previous year. Additionally, the number of people housed fell by more than 3,000 compared with the 2021-2022 data set, a statement from the RTFH reads.


"Housing and homelessness are directly tied together, and when rental costs go up, so do the numbers of people experiencing homelessness," RTFH CEO Tamera Kohler said. "When we see the largest year-over-year increase in 1Q 2023 rents for one-bedroom units of 30%, we'll continue to struggle to find affordable units to end people's homelessness experience."

"While this affects our ability to house more people each month, the data shows we may have hit our high-water mark of individuals beginning their homeless experience," she said. "This is a positive turn we need."

RTFH began publishing reports a year ago that highlight how many people enter and exit homelessness each month throughout San Diego County to provide the region with a better understanding of the homelessness crisis, the RTFH statement reads.

"These numbers are sobering but present a case for optimism," Kohler said. "The vast majority of exits from homelessness are via rental by client, either with or without a subsidy, rather than permanent supportive housing.

"If we get some stabilizing in rent prices and availability, it will help, but long-term success will only come with more homes for people of all income levels; then, we've got a real chance to turn things around," she said. "Every new housing unit matters."

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