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2020 Point in Time Count Results


The 2020 count of the region’s homeless population found 7,619 homeless San Diegans live on our streets or in our shelters in San Diego County, a 6 percent reduction from the 2019 count. The Point-In-Time Count (PITC), commonly known as WeAllCount, marks the annual effort to engage San Diegans experiencing homelessness and inform the work of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) to reduce homelessness in the region.

San Diego’s 2020 WeAllCount efforts took place over three days, beginning at 4 a.m. on January 23 with a total of 1,782 volunteers focused on counting people experiencing homelessness, not vehicles or structures. Volunteers and outreach workers interviewed unsheltered individuals using the mobile Counting Us Application and Geographical Information System (GIS) technology. The introduction of this handheld technology this year allowed the RTFH to analyze data in real-time and distribute resources in the community. The RTFH has already begun using this data to aid in the COVID-19 response and will continue to use this data to advance regional best practices.

“The information gathered during this annual count is critical in our fight to tackle homelessness in San Diego County,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Vice Chair of the RTFH and Co-Chair of the County’s COVID-19 Subcommittee. “With this data we can secure more funding to support our homeless outreach strategies and deliver critical mental health, substance abuse and housing services to people living in our region without shelter. To make the count a successful endeavor it takes people, and I am grateful for all the volunteers, but I have a special place in my heart for the more than five-hundred County employees who stepped-up this year -- thank you.”   

The PITC has been utilized in developing the City of San Diego’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness, outreach strategies, implementation of best practices, and policy developments. Data has also informed our region’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic determining the placement of several handwashing stations, the number of high-risk unsheltered individuals in need of additional services, and the opening of the temporary homeless shelter at the San Diego Convention Center.

“The RTFH’s person-centered approach to the annual point in time count has given the San Diego region the tools and information to inform all aspects of addressing homelessness. The mobile technology used this year has helped us survey more people, better understand their needs, and directly translate this into the community action plans and regional policies that shape our response,” said Councilmember Chris Ward, Chair of the RTFH. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, these best-practices and new technology have delivered more accurate, actionable data to Public Health Officials and have allowed outreach workers to specifically target at-risk homeless individuals for life-saving services. This data will continue to be analyzed in our ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.”

According to this year’s count, there are approximately 3,971 unsheltered individuals and 3,648 sheltered throughout the County. Out of the total unsheltered population: 8 percent are veterans, 17 percent are chronically homeless and 8 percent are unsheltered youth.

“This year’s count shows a dramatic reduction in the number of people living outdoors, and that San Diego is continuing to lead with real solutions to this statewide crisis,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “Since the count and in response to COVID-19, hundreds more who were living on the streets have found shelter in the San Diego Convention Center and we enacted an eviction moratorium to help prevent folks from losing their home in the first place. We will keep working day and night to overcome this pandemic and help even more people find shelter and housing in the process.”

In 2017, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and the local Continuum of Care (CoC) formally merged into one organization focused on a singular goal: to end chronic homelessness in the San Diego region. Since then, the RTFH has positioned itself as a resource for local governments and stakeholders, ready to provide data and insight, inform policy, and coordinate resources to strengthen our region’s collective impact on homelessness.

“The Point-In-Time-Count is one of many planning and policy tools of the Regional Task Force. This innovative use of new technology and best-practice approach lead by outreach across the region is delivering the most accurate street-based count our region has ever conducted,” said Tamera Kohler, Chief Executive Officer of the RTFH. “This level of effective, accurate reporting of information is only achievable with the dedication of over 1700 volunteers and our many partner organizations, along with the staff at the RTFH.”  

The Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) is an integrated array of stakeholders committed to preventing and alleviating homelessness in San Diego. We provide essential data and insights on the issue of homelessness, informing policy and driving system design and performance.