County supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday to move ahead with plans for a “By-Name-List,” which would include the name, history, health and housing needs of people experiencing homelessness in the county — with their consent and updated in real-time.
“The By-Name-List will transform the strategy to end homelessness from an anonymous issue into one focused on each individual’s needs,” Supervisor Jim Desmond, who co-sponsored the proposal, said in an earlier statement. “It will also allow for providers to be much more effective at treating and knowing each person.”
The countywide By-Name-List is intended to provide detailed information that helps communities better match housing solutions with the needs of individuals, and track real-time changes in the size, composition and dynamics of the homeless population.
“This action is a common-sense move to make us more effective as we tackle the homelessness crisis,” Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, the measure’s co-sponsor, said. “Addressing this challenge together across jurisdictions, as a region, means taking steps like this to strengthen our data and coordination and ensure the most vulnerable don’t fall through the cracks.”
With the board’s approval, Helen Robbins-Meyer, county chief administrative officer, will work with county staff, community organizations, service providers, local governments, people with lived experience and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness to explore the feasibility of the developing list.
She will return to the board in 90 days with recommendations, including cost and staffing needs. The county could consider a phased-in approach focusing on subregions, such as North Coastal and North Inland regions.
According to the Regional Task Force on Homelessness’ 2022 Point-in-Time count, there has been a 10% increase in homelessness in the county since 2020. The count is a one-day snapshot of those experiencing homelessness and registered a minimum number of 8,427 homeless people across San Diego County, with the true number likely considerably higher.
“The challenges of finding every person in a car, canyon, or under a bridge, is impossible, but every effort is made to find and engage as many people as we can,” the Regional Task Force on Homelessness stated when the count was released in May.
The RTFH count included 4,106 unsheltered San Diegans, with 4,321 individuals housed in shelters. Of those surveyed, 85% said they had fallen into homelessness while living in the region.
The 2022 count was conducted in February by more than 1,400 volunteers across the county. It was the first such count since January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent increase in shelter options.
The Point-in-Time Count saw an increase in families experiencing homelessness of 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, this year’s count showed 47% of them 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 RTFH numbers, 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.
City News Service contributed to this article.