Record High Number of Houseless People in Downtown San Diego

by on December 12, 2022 · 0 comments

in Homelessness, San Diego

The number of houseless people in downtown San Diego reached a record high for the fourth straight month in November, according to a count conducted by the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

November’s count found 1,706 people sleeping on sidewalks and in cars along downtown streets, up from 1,660 from October and increasing the monthly average for the year to 1,485.

The numbers increased by more than 50% from the same time last year, when the count was at 1,124.

Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO at Father Joe’s Villages issued a statement in response to the new numbers:

“The upward trend of people living on downtown streets is extremely concerning and disheartening. It is clear that more people are falling into homelessness than what the current system can serve.

A home is what breaks the cycle of homelessness. With the average apartment renting for more than $2,700 a month, many San Diegans struggle simply to keep a roof over their heads. The region needs to build an adequate supply of affordable housing throughout the county, including in downtown San Diego. Funding sources need to be expanded, and permitting and entitlement processes must be streamlined.

Additional and more diverse shelter beds, including a focus on non-congregate, harm reduction, sober living, and extensive resources for those afflicted with mental health challenges, must be deployed to move people off the streets and further integrate services–like our food, employment and education, and permanent housing programs–so that they work together for success.

Homelessness services providers can’t end homelessness alone; it takes the support of every San Diegan. It is our responsibility as a community to encourage systemic and policy change that allows us to create more affordable housing for everyone.”

Alpha Project President and CEO Bob McElroy said the increase in homeless people on the street is very noticeable, and discouraging. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” he said. “We’re doing far more shelters than we’ve done in the past, but the need is just overwhelming.”

The Alpha Project operates four city-funded shelters, with the two largest in industrial tents in downtown San Diego. One shelter had 276 people Tuesday and the other 125, and McElroy said they usually are near or at capacity.

“It’s the first time in three and a half decades of doing this that I’m discouraged,” he said. “We’re trying to swim upstream. I’m perplexed, and I don’t really know what to do.”

In the latest count from the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the largest population of homeless people was in East Village, which had 760 people. The southwest area of East Village had the most homeless people, with 437 individuals.

While the overall downtown population has steadily grown over the past few months, the numbers in individual neighborhoods have been erratic over the year. East Village had a high of 846 people in September, with a low of 598 in July.

The second-largest downtown population in November was in the City Center neighborhood, which had 235 people, a decrease from 284 in October. There were 33 people in the Columbia neighborhood, 44 in the Marina neighborhood, 114 in the Cortez neighborhood, 54 in the Gaslamp neighborhood and 466 in an area the partnership refers to as the outside perimeter.

San Diego Union-Tribune


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