Preventing and Responding to Homelessness

Our team has recently learned even more about homelessness in our region and is eager to share important information about this pressing issue affecting too many of our neighbors and community members.

What does homelessness look like in San Diego County?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates an annual census of homeless individuals, known as the Point-In-Time Count. This single-day count, conducted during the month of January each year, provides a snapshot of the number of homeless individuals throughout San Diego County. Interviews of willing participants are also conducted and help local service providers understand the local drivers of homelessness, as well as access to and perception of available services. The 2018 count in San Diego County found the following:

  • There are at least 8,576 homeless persons in the county.
  • 42% (3,586) are sheltered in some type of temporary housing.
  • 58% (4,990) are unsheltered, living on the street.
    • 74% of unsheltered homeless individuals became homeless while living in San Diego County.
  • 15% (1,312) are veterans.
  • 25% are chronically homeless.

San Diego County’s Homeless Response System

The region’s nonprofits offer diverse programs and services tailored to the specific needs of people experiencing housing insecurity (lack of access to housing). These include day services, street outreach, emergency shelters, rapid re-housing (vouchers and rental assistance), transitional housing (up to 24 months), permanent supportive housing, and affordable housing.

Local Nonprofits

Interfaith Community Services

Offering a variety of social service programs throughout North County San Diego, Interfaith Community Services directly serves the homeless through emergency, transitional, supportive, and permanent affordable housing programs. Last year, Interfaith prevented homelessness or provided shelter for over 2019 individuals through a variety of shelter and housing services. Interfaith connects people to emergency rental or mortgage assistance to prevent imminent homelessness, bridge shelter access for emergency housing, and permanent housing solutions. In addition to housing and shelter, Interfaith provides employment services, nutrition and basic needs, and behavioral health and recovery programs.

Interfaith Shelter Network

Interfaith Shelter Network (ISN) links thousands of individuals, social service agencies and government agencies to provide a safety-net of support for San Diego’s 6,500 “situationally” or short-term homeless. They engage more than 4,000 volunteers annually and provide numerous opportunities to individuals and organizations for involvement. The ISN rotates between 70 faith congregations to host up to 15 individuals who work with case managers to identify their specific challenges and create a plan of action. Over 50 percent of guests leave the shelters for their own housing.

Jewish Family Service of San Diego

Every night, Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) operates a Safe Parking Program for unsheltered San Diegans living out of their vehicles, many of whom are experiencing homelessness for the first time. The program provides comprehensive case management, meaningful resources and tools, and dignified support to help families stabilize and transition back into permanent housing. With holistic services focused on basic needs assistance, employment, family wellness, school success, financial education, credit repair, and housing, their goal is to create a pathway out of homelessness while being a support to people where they are now.

The program serves over 200 vehicles seven nights per week at four secured lots in San Diego County.

Monarch Schools

There are thousands of homeless students in San Diego County. The barriers these students face hinder their ability to become contributing, successful members of their families and society and place them at a high risk of becoming tomorrow’s homeless adults. Monarch Schools gives students the academic, emotional, social, and life skills and tools they need to overcome these odds.

Regional Taskforce on the Homeless

Partnering closely with public and private partners for over 30 years, the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless (RTFH) provides leadership for a collaborative, region-wide effort on preventing and ending homelessness. The Taskforce engages stakeholders to drive aligned solutions for ending homelessness in the San Diego region.

The RTFH serves as the HUD Continuum of Care lead organization, and plays a critical role in helping the San Diego region secure approximately $18M in federal and state homelessness funding each year. Additionally, the RTFH is the regional lead for homelessness data collection and analysis, leading the annual Point-in-Time Campaign, known as the “WeALLCount Campaign”. The data is accessible on the online.

Free Showers: Showers of Blessings and Think Dignity

These two organizations provide those experiencing homelessness with one of life’s most basic human dignities–cleanliness. The opportunity to maintain personal hygiene can reduce health problems, raise self-esteem and increase employment potential and social acceptance. Showers of Blessings operates weekly at churches around San Diego. Volunteers host the showers and provide clean clothes, socks, toiletries, and fresh towels for about 15-30 people weekly. Think Dignity operates at 10 locations throughout San Diego on a rotating basis.