Point in Time Count
A volunteer from San Diego County in Vista interacts with local residents living on the streets. Photo credit: County News Center

Nearly 1,500 volunteers took to the streets early Thursday for the Point-in-Time Count to help officials establish the number of residents living on the streets and in cars or shelters.

The final count for San Diego County will be made available in the spring.

The volunteers for the annual count, which was led by the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, interact with those on the streets, asking questions for surveys that are ultimately used to apply for federal and state funding to help those without homes.

“The annual Point-in-Time Count helps us get an idea of the unsheltered population in our region in order to connect them with resources,” said Barbara Jiménez, a community operations officer in the county Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities. “It’s also an opportunity for more county employees to interact with our neighbors experiencing homelessness.”

Hundreds of volunteers began the day at 4 a.m. in one of 36 different sites throughout the county where they split into teams to walk or drive in their designated areas looking for those living outside.

A total of 254 county employees volunteered to take part this year, including Beatrice Maleno and Dahiana Jimenez, who work in Jimenez’s department, and Maria Lischin, a social worker with Aging and Independence Services.

“Participating in the Point-in-Time Count for over five years has afforded me the opportunity to advocate for resources,” said Maleno, a program specialist.  

In November, the county Board of Supervisors voted to continue paying county employees for participating in the count. Employees have been paid for their participation since 2014.

In the 2022 count, the task force found that homelessness had risen by at least 10% since 2020, with volunteers finding a minimum of 8,427 people struggling without a home.

That number included 4,106 unsheltered San Diegans, with 4,321 individuals in shelters. Of those surveyed, 85% said they had lost their homes while living in the region.

The task force said the situations in 2020 and 2022 should not be measured by the same standard as frigid temperatures the morning of the count may have impacted the number of people to be found outside. Still, the total number of people sleeping outside without shelter increased by 3% as compared to the last count.

Last year, there was a 30% decrease in the veteran homeless population and a 7% decrease in the chronic homelessness population as compared to 2020.

Black San Diegans, who make up under 5% of the total population in the county, made up 24% of the region’s unsheltered homeless population.

According to task force CEO Tamera Kohler, between October 2020 and September 2021, more than 36,500 San Diegans interacted with providers of homeless services, meaning the true number of San Diegans living without permanent housing could be far higher than the count reflects.

– City News Service