The city of San Francisco performs a “homeless census” every other year, and SFist joined in on this year's count on a chilly night back in January. More than 750 volunteers combed every single street block of San Francisco for the Homeless Point-In-Time Count to produce the most accurate homeless population estimate possible. Their hand-written data takes about five months to aggregate and compile, but as of Friday morning the official results are in and the overall homeless population has decreased by 0.5 percent for 2017 as the Chronicle reports.
The current homeless population is now tabbed at 7,499 people living on the streets of San Francisco. That does compare favorably to the 7,539 homeless people counted in the 2015 Homeless Point-In-Time Count.
Sound encouraging? Not really. When you do the math, that means a measly 40 fewer homeless people in San Francisco since the most previous count. That is some margin-of-error difference there, people.
And in an explicitly discouraging development, certain neighborhoods are seeing their homeless populations double or even triple. The Richmond now has nearly double the number of homeless people (137) as it did in 2015 (77). The Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach neighborhood has seen its homeless population more than double, with a 106 percent increase. The region that contains the Inner Sunset has seen its homeless population more than triple, from 29 in 2015 to 91 today.
But overall we’ve seen a tiny (and debatable) decline. The Tenderloin, traditionally the most homeless neighborhood in town, has seen a significant 13 percent decline in homelessness as its hot new gentrified persona takes effect.
“This is the first time the (citywide) count has gone down in a long time, and I think that’s a recognition of the fact that we’re having success,” San Francisco homelessness czar Jeff Kositsky said. “We’re starting to bend the curve on families, veterans and education, because that’s where we’re putting some extra energy.”
For all of the mildly encouraging/massively depressing findings in this report, San Francisco actually compares really well to other major cities. Over this same period, Los Angeles’ homeless count has gone up by 23 percent and Alameda County’s homeless count has increased by 39 percent.
You can read all of the San Francisco Homeless Point-In-Time Count data online, as well as all data going back to 2005.
Related: Frustrated By Filth, SF's Public Works Goes Rogue On Homeless Encampment Cleanups