The number of people falling into homelessness for the first time exceeds the number of homeless people who find housing in San Diego County each month, according to a new report.
The regional task force on homelessness, in its first monthly report released on Tuesday, said that for every 10 homeless people who found housing in the past 12 months, 13 more people became homeless for the first time. time.
From October 2021 to September 2022, the analysis found that 15,327 people countywide reported being homeless for the first time, while 11,861 homeless people found some type of housing.
The most recent data from September shows 1,368 people have become homeless, the fourth highest in the past 12 months, and 789 people have found accommodation, the third lowest in the past year.
While the annual homeless count last February found around 8,400 people in San Diego County, the report theoretically shows there would have been enough housing to get everyone off the streets and out of shelters. if no one else had become homeless in the past year. .
“One of the things I think it shows is that we know what to do, we just haven’t been able to do it at the right scope and the right scale,” Tamera Kohler said. , CEO of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness. “And even when we have been able to do it at this scope and scale, the numbers overwhelm the system.
“There are hits every day,” she said. “We just have a lot more people coming in than people going out.”
The report found that the number of people who became homeless and found accommodation fluctuated each month, sometimes significantly.
In October 2021, only 609 people were housed, the lowest number in 12 months, while 1,429 people found accommodation in April. The number of people entering homelessness for the first time dipped in July at 1,095 and peaked at 1,650 people in May.
December and March were the only months when the number of people who found housing exceeded the number of new people who became homeless.
Tamera Kohler, chief executive of the Regional Homelessness Task Force, said it was unclear why the numbers fluctuated, but there would be more analysis in the future.
“We don’t know what to look at until we dig into the data,” she said. “I want to know what happened during those months. Why, some months, we stay a lot and others not? What’s going on there?”
On the surface, the data shows for the first time a clear indication of what cities and homeless service providers are facing. For whatever reason – addiction, job loss, health issues, domestic issues – more than 1,000 people in the county have become homeless each month.
With nearly 12,000 people housed over the year, the data also shows things could be worse.
“I get the question all the time, ‘How many people did you house last month and how many people became homeless?'” Kohler said. “Giving a month-to-month number will at least level the narrative in a way that I think is helpful. Then I think that might take the heat off some people’s opinion that nothing works.
While the number of people who have found housing is encouraging, Kohler noted that many of those people are regressing, and up to 25% of those who have found housing return to homelessness within two years.
On an encouraging note, the report showed that finding a home for someone does not require creating a new home or additional housing vouchers.
“The majority need a little help or a little help finding where they can go back to work or finding a unit they can afford or finding a family member they can be with. housed,” Kohler said. “The success of the system is not just, ‘We need more permanent supportive housing’ or more housing vouchers.”
Of the 789 people who found housing in September, only 174, or about 22%, moved into permanent supportive housing. Most, 558 people, have found accommodation that they have rented themselves. Others moved in with a family member or found another type of permanent accommodation on their own.
The report also shows that the number of homeless people countywide in one year is greater than the annual one-night tally. This year’s count in February found 8,427 homeless people in San Diego County, a 10% increase from the previous count in January 2020.
The number of people who received some type of homeless service in the past 12 months was 41,345, about five times the tally at any given time. However, not all of these people live outdoors or in shelters. According to the report, about 31% are in permanent housing and 3% were receiving help to prevent homelessness.
The report will also show demographics of people hosted each month. The September breakdown shows that the 789 people who found housing included 87 families, 127 veterans, 178 people aged 55 and over and 75 transition-age youth aged 18 to 24.
September saw 26,560 active clients in homeless service programs, up 4% from August. Those served included 2,341 families, 3,939 veterans, 8,107 seniors and 1,934 transition-age youth.
The data is compiled from the Homeless Management Information System, a database that tracks homeless services and needs locally and nationally.
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