City News - Volunteers to count homeless in San Diego
SAN DIEGO - Volunteers and community leaders will conduct the annual count of homeless in San Diego County Friday morning.
Results of the "WeAllCount" tabulation of the region's homeless population figure into how much federal grant money is received by governments and social organizations to help get people off the streets and into housing.
"Eliminating homelessness in our community requires a complex understanding of our homeless population and factors that led to them being where they are," said Dolores Diaz, the executive director of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, which organizes the count. "We are committed to accurately counting the homeless in our region, which requires the help of many generous local volunteers."
Last year, volunteers found 8,250 people in the county without a place to live, a 4 percent drop from the year before. More than half of them were staying in a shelter run by a social service agency. Almost 60 percent of those surveyed had been homeless for more than a year, compared to 69 percent in 2013.
Among other statistics provided by the task force:
-- 74 percent were men, down 1 percent from the year before;
-- 17 percent were veterans, up 2 percent; and
-- 46 percent had severe mental health issues and 31 percent had major substance abuse problems.
The data also showed that half the homeless had been to an emergency room in the past year.
Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Supervisor Greg Cox and San Diego City Council members Todd Gloria, Sherri Lightner and Scott Sherman are among those scheduled to take part in today's count.
"This survey brings us face-to-face with the men and women who are living on our streets and help us gain a better understanding of their problems," Cox said. "Talking to them and hearing their stories allows us to craft solutions and services so we can get them off the streets."