Homelessness is a condition. It is not someone else’s problem. It is not even complex, although there are many causes of being homeless. It is a solvable problem but requires the vigilance of a soldier, the empathy of a nurse, the resolve of a leader and the involvement of all to solve.
WeAllCount is led by the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH). Each year this group sets out to count the homeless in our communities. The 2019 count is in. According to County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Fletcher, “(T)he County of San Diego has a responsibility to work collaboratively with local governments and our community partners, to connect people experiencing homelessness with resources that put them on a path to a healthier, more stable life. The data received from this year’s count is the most accurate yet and will better inform the decisions I make at the County to end chronic homelessness in our communities.”
The total count for San Diego County is 8,102, down from 9,116 reported in 2017. Inland North County had a count of 776, down from 1,287 reported in 2017. These totals are for both sheltered and unsheltered homeless. Yes, it is good to hear that the numbers are trending down, but until a zero is recorded, we should not settle for trends. For those recorded homeless due to health issues, physical disability, chronic health condition, serious mental illness and domestic violence lead the health reasons. Interestingly, alcohol and substance abuse are the least reported health reason. Over 60% of the reported homeless have been homeless for more than a year and over 60% of the chronic homeless are unsheltered, i.e. living on our streets. The number of homeless veterans is trending down.
As we tackle the economic forces of housing and transportation in our communities, we must recognize that we have work to do to meet the services and housing needs of our homeless neighbors. Every one of else can help and our government representatives must lead their boards toward resolution.
Alan Geraci is an attorney and former candidate for the 75th Assembly District.