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Quality of Life

Task Force on Homelessness calls for more volunteers for Point in Time Count

Courtesy of Downtown San Diego Partnership
Undated file photo of volunteers speaking with unsheltered residents as part of the annual homeless Point in Time count.

The Regional Task Force on Homelessness Thursday put out a call for more volunteers to participate in the upcoming 2023 Point in Time Count later this month.

The count — scheduled for Jan. 26 — is a federally required activity and a "crucial source of information and funding for homelessness across the county," a statement from the RTFH reads.

"A robust volunteer basis is vital to the success of the 2023 Point in Time Count," RTFH CEO Tamera Kohler said. "While we're excited about the enthusiasm so far, we need more people across our region to take part in the count."

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The count provides a one-day snapshot of the minimum number of San Diegans living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, safe havens and on streets and along riverbeds. It also collects data on the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

With one of the largest counties in the country, hundreds of volunteers are needed for the Point in Time Count.

"So many San Diegans are wondering what they can do to help make progress around homelessness," Kohler said. "By participating in the 2023 Point in Time Count, you're doing your part by providing valuable information about those experiencing homelessness while ensuring that our region gets the federal funding it deserves."

In the 2022 count, homelessness had grown by at least 10% since 2020, according to the findings. More than 1,400 volunteers participated and found a minimum of 8,427 people experiencing homelessness across San Diego County.

This number included 4,106 unsheltered San Diegans, with 4,321 individuals in shelters. Of those surveyed, 85% said they had fallen into homelessness while living in the region. That number was likely impacted by bad weather the night before, a RTFH statement at the time read, so it may have unintentionally undercounted the true number of county residents experiencing homelessness.

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There were some bright spots in the 2022 data, the task force claims, including a 30% decrease in the veteran homeless population and a 7% decrease in the chronic homelessness population versus 2020. The county also saw an increase in transitional-aged youth in shelters. Additional shelter options throughout the region also made a difference as well as a large housing effort in downtown San Diego housing roughly 150 San Diegans the week leading up to the count.

The 2022 Point in Time Count saw an increase in families experiencing homelessness, up 56% from 2020. Black San Diegans, who make up less than 5% of the total population in San Diego County, made up 24% of the region's unsheltered homeless population.

While 24% of San Diegans experiencing homelessness were over 55 in both 2020 and 2022, last year's count showed 47% of those seniors were experiencing homelessness for the first time, with 57% having a physical disability. The oldest person surveyed living on the street in San Diego County was 87.

According to Kohler, between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, more than 36,500 San Diegans interacted with homeless services, meaning the true number of San Diegans living without permanent housing could be far higher than what the count found.

For more information about the Point in Time Count, visit rtfhsd.org/about-coc/weallcount-pitc. To register to volunteer, visit sandiego.pointintime.info.