The official results of San Francisco's point-in-time homeless count for 2019, which took place one night in January, were quietly released Friday by the city's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. And the numbers confirm what we had already learned in May: There was a 17% uptick in the number of homeless in the city since 2017.
The number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless rose from 6,858 to 8,011 in two years, and "homelessness czar" Jeff Kositsky tells the Associated Press that he attributes the uptick in part to a greater number of homeless living in cars and RVs.
Kositsky says he's troubled by the number of individuals that were counted who said they had jobs but still had to live out of their vehicles.
Also notable in the census numbers was a slight decrease in the number of unaccompanied homeless youth (under the age of 25), from 1,274 in 2017 to 1,145 this year. 31% of those counted said they were experiencing homelessness for the first time, and 15% had been homeless for less than one year. 43% said they have lived in San Francisco for more than 10 years, and out of all those in the count, 70% said their prior residence was in San Francisco, prior to experiencing homelessness.
69% of those in the census cited disabling conditions for leading to their homelessness, with about a third citing chronic health problems, and 39% blaming psychiatric or emotional conditions.
The point-in-time count is conducted in cities across the country at the behest of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As we learned when draft numbers were released in May, the entire region saw an overall 29% jump in the number of homeless people since 2017, with Alameda and Santa Clara counties seeing the most significant upticks. And while some criticize the methodology of the census — counting only those visibly homeless or in shelters, and not necessarily those temporarily housed with friends, etc. — it is necessary for "apples-to-apples" comparisons over time.
Mayor London Breed reposted this video Friday, via tweet, saying, "Stopped by @KQED Newsroom to discuss the complexity of helping people exit homelessness, why it's so important to build more affordable housing and build it faster, and other issues facing San Francisco." The video is from a June 20 broadcast.
Below, some more of the demographic and detailed information from the homeless census report's executive summary. You can find the full census report here.
Top photo: Tomas Castelazo/Wikimedia