San Diego County’s data was taken from the 2018 Point in Time Study, completed on Jan. 26. The region had an official count of 8,576 homeless residents during the three-hour window in which the count took place, behind Seattle/King County in Washington, Los Angeles County, and New York City, which topped the list with 78,676 homeless residents.
According to the report, roughly 5,000 members of San Diego’s homeless population are unsheltered, living on the street, in a vehicle, or in a hand-built structure such as a tent. Another 3,500 homeless residents were sheltered at the time of the study, living in emergency shelters, safe havens, and transitional housing.
The county’s count could be higher than 9,000 homeless residents, however, because the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless did not count residents in recreational vehicles and some residents in shelters. County officials and homeless advocates believe the actual homeless population could total as high as 9,220, but the true count has remained opaque since the task force, which oversees the Point in Time County, announced the error on May 31.
Overall, California leads all other states with 129,972 homeless individuals, followed by New York at 91,897. At the time the counts were completed in January, California laid claim to 24 percent of the country’s total homeless population. Combined with New York, Florida, Texas, and Washington, roughly half of the country’s homeless population was clustered in five states.
Homelessness in California has declined in recent years despite the robust total. The state’s homeless population fell by 1,560, or 1.2 percent, from 2017 to 2018 and 9,014, or 6.5 percent, from 2007 to 2018. New York and Massachusetts have seen the biggest increases from 2007 to 2018, adding 29,296 and 4,941 homeless residents to their counts, respectively.