Will San Diego Keep Its Title of Area With 4th Largest Homeless Population?

by on May 10, 2019 · 9 comments

in Homelessness

It’s too soon to tell if San Diego will retain its title of being the area with the 4th largest homeless population. Even though the official homeless count numbers are in, HUD has not determined the order of cities currently with the most homeless.But San Diego is proud to have retained this position since 2015.

It’s done everything it can to increase the numbers – and so has California in general.So, while homeless advocates and government grant writers await the final results of the yearly national contest, we can still look at the numbers we have.

The San Diego County’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless found the county’s homeless population total at 8,102. The task force’s 2019 Point-In-Time Count survey determined there are 4,476 unsheltered people in the county, with 3,626 classified as sheltered.

Officially, these numbers are both down from last year’s observed total of 8,576 and the 2017 total of 9,116. Unofficially critics say the number of people counted living in their vehicles is way off.

Broken down by region, here’s the county totals:

  • City of San Diego: 2,600 unsheltered homeless people, 2,473 sheltered homeless people;
  • East County (Alpine [Crest-Dehesa], El Cajon, La Mesa, Lakeside, Lemon Grove, Santee, Spring Valley [Casa de Oro]): 563 unsheltered, 489 sheltered;
  • North County Inland (Escondido [NC Metro & Hidden Meadows], Fallbrook, Poway, Ramona, San Marcos, Vista [Bonsall]): 493 unsheltered, 292 sheltered;
  • North County Coastal (Carlsbad, Encinitas [San Dieguito, Solana Beach & Del Mar], Oceanside): 471 unsheltered, 293 sheltered;
  • South County (Chula Vista [Sweetwater], Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City): un sheltered 349, sheltered 79

Here are notable statistics that came from the homeless count:

  • 10 percent of unsheltered San Diegans are military veterans
  • 36 percent of unsheltered San Diegans reported having a physical disability
  • 78 percent of unsheltered San Diegans reported becoming homeless in San Diego

2015 was the year San Diego gained its title. Here’s a report from Los Angeles Times Nov. 27, 2015:

San Diego’s homeless population rose to 8,742 this year from 8,506 in 2014, a 2.8% increase that bumped it into the top four for the first time behind the metropolitan areas of Seattle, Los Angeles and New York City.
San Diego was the 12th-ranked metro area in 2007, and has steadily made its way up to the No. 4 spot, according to the federal data.
San Diego’s homeless population has fallen from a peak in 2010 of 10,013, but other areas have made more progress in addressing the problem, resulting in the higher ranking for San Diego. 

So, if San Diego is fourth, who’s on first? In 2018 –

  1. New York had the largest homeless population with 78,676 people,
  2. Los Angeles with 49,955 and
  3. Seattle/King County, Washington with 12,112.

San Jose/Santa Clara City and County was fifth with 7,254 people.

What about the rest of Southern California?

  • Los Angeles County in 2018 was 52,765;
  • Orange County, volunteers counted 6,860 people in 2019, up 43% from 4,792 in 2017 when the last count was administered.
  • San Bernardino County, the number jumped 23% to 2,607 since 2018.
  • Riverside County, volunteers counted 2,811 homeless people in January, 22% more than last year.
  • Ventura County, the official number increased by 28%, from 1,299 people to 1,669.


And California in general? Here are some statistics to make you proud:

  • Last year’s count revealed that about 130,000 Californians were homeless; n
  • early a quarter of the national total.
  • California’s rate of homelessness, 33 per 10,000 residents, was among the highest in the country.
  • the vast majority of homeless Californians (69%) were unsheltered, meaning they were living in streets, parks, or other locations not meant for human habitation—the highest rate in the nation;
  • among homeless veterans, California has the nation’s highest share that are unsheltered (67%);
  • and among homeless youth, the share that are unsheltered (80%) ranks second highest.

What about the whole country?

According to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the country’s homeless population has increased slightly for the second year in succession . It now stands at 553,000 with 65 percent of that total living in sheltered accommodation. 17 out of every 10,000 people in the U.S. has now experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018.

Here’s some more fun stats:

  • Half of all homeless people are in one of five states –
    • California (129,972),
    • New York (91,897),
    • Florida (31,030),
    • Texas (25,310) and
    • Washington (22,304).
    • More than half of the homeless population are scattered across the country’s 50 biggest cities.
    • Nearly a quarter of them live in just two cities – New York and Los Angeles.
    We’re holding our breath until HUD does the list for this year. Until then, maybe Gov. Newsom has a plan.



    Public Policy Institute of California

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

not funny May 10, 2019 at 1:41 pm

“But San Diego is proud to have retained this position since 2015.
It’s done everything it can to increase the numbers – and so has California in general.”

Also “fun stats”, I don’t think anyone thinks this topic is fun.
Tongue in cheek isn’t the best progressive tone for a homeless article.


Chris May 11, 2019 at 7:24 am

Considering the fact we now have homeless active duty military personnel in SD, how can one not joke and mock.


john scherer May 10, 2019 at 1:49 pm

you are being lied to about everything, they keep us homeless so they keep getting public funding and federal contracts. they refuse to help with getting a apartment because we are there paycheck https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLj8FS2y3_FuSUuBEQI4TtMPPDZBqOBnMp


FDR May 10, 2019 at 4:41 pm

It’s said that San Diego and California have done everything it can to increase homelessness; does that include the parlor progressives?


Peter from South O May 11, 2019 at 4:12 am

Please substantiate this: “It’s done everything it can to increase the numbers – and so has California in general”.

I DID appreciate the wry humor lead-in; comedy and tragedy intersect in real life.


Frank Gormlie May 14, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Let’s see; how has Mayor Faulconer kept the homeless here? He had them swept from downtown, had them swept from San Diego River, has their belongings confiscated every week, put in rocks under a freeway overpass to help them sleep better. Neither Faulconer or the state have dealt with the magnitude of the problem up to now; maybe Newsom is starting to with his new budget. But if SD has the 4th largest homeless population in the country, no one treats it as the human crisis it is. Sure let’s have a few industrial size tents and now we’ll have a few safe parking lots – but Faulconer championed bringing back the ban on van sleeping without adequately finding alternatives. Plus for years, the primary complaint of the homeless in downtown and in OB, for instance, is the lack of public restrooms. Has Faulconer responded to that? No.


Oldob May 11, 2019 at 8:47 am

If there are homeless active duty military then that is a department of defense issue for not offering sufficient housing allowances. This may be set at the doorstep of our douche bag in chief who likes to claim that he treats our military so well. As far as the other stuff, if I were homeless I would choose to locate in San Diego too. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the city government or citizens of San Diego to solve the homelessness problems of other cities. When I was living downtown my wife and I met a homeless man at the Hilton dog park who had just been bused by the city of Chicago to San Diego. WTF?


Chris May 11, 2019 at 9:19 pm

It’s not so much the housing allowances not being sufficient, but rather the bureaucracy getting the housing allowances in the first place, I work in the middle of it so I know how much we can’t figure out the left hand from the right hand, At least some of the people I interact with (work wise) are upfront about the fact they don’t have a full grasp of their job responsibilities.


Robert The Mayor May 11, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Not only are the homeless #’s way wrong, there is approx. 3500 to 5000 people living in vehicles and approx 25000 to 30000 homeless in San Diego. Many you don’t see living in canyons. The City Council has increased the number of Elderly Homeless by 4000 in the last 5 years by taking fixed income residences and selling them to developers mainly from L.A. These seniors are now living out of cars or in canyons. Go to the end of Governor Dr by the 805 in University City and you can’t miss full evidence of this. The City Council has let developers BUY their way out of building low income homes! Nor have they used any of the 28 + million dollars the state gave them for mental health. But they do use the interest it accumulates in the bank and they don’t have to account for that money. Wise up San Diego! We’re being Cheated! Robert Marrow for Mayor 2020! I am for The People of San Diego


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