It is difficult to quantitatively describe the extent of homelessness because data are difficult to collect, and collection methods vary. Nationwide estimates of deaths among people experiencing homelessness range greatly, from 5,800 to 46,500 each year.[1] Life expectancy estimates for those who are experiencing homelessness also vary but are estimated to be substantially lower than the population at large.[2] It is believed that poor health can both lead to homelessness and be caused by homelessness. Unsheltered living and unstable housing can worsen health outcomes by limiting health care access and slowing recovery.[3] Suicidal ideation is many times more common among people experiencing homelessness, especially among men.[4],[5] In a recent poll of registered voters in California, homelessness ranked second out of 15 most important issues facing the state, with 29% of registered voters indicating it was one of the most important issues.[6]
 The Regional Task Force on Homelessness (RTFH) provides annual estimates of people experiencing homelessness each year using #WeAllCount Point-In-Time Counts[7], a federally mandated program where volunteers survey those experiencing homelessness across the San Diego Region. This method is the most common way of measuring homelessness and includes counts of people experiencing homelessness by jurisdiction and whether the person was sheltered, such as a homeless shelter. Twenty census tracts in the North and East Regions of San Diego County are excluded from the counts due to no known unsheltered population and lack of outreach in those areas to confirm. Although many communities across the country participate in the same annual homeless Point-In-Time Count,[8] methods are adapted to regional needs and circumstances, so it may be difficult to compare the results of this count to those in other regions. 
The figure below presents the total number of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness by jurisdiction in 2022. The City of San Diego showed the highest number of unsheltered and sheltered people experiencing homelessness. Oceanside had the second largest number of unsheltered people, and El Cajon had the second largest number of sheltered people. Future reports will aim to include demographic data. More information can be found on the RTFH website.[9]

Data Information
Data Source: Regional Task Force on Homelessness, 2022 Point in Time Count.
  1. National Health Care for the Homeless Council. (2020). National Homeless Mortality Overview. https://nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Section-1-Toolkit.pdf
  2. Romaszko, J., Cymes, I., Dragańska, E., Kuchta, R., & Glińska-Lewczuk, K. (2017). Mortality among the homeless: Causes and meteorological relationships. PLoS ONE, 12(12), e0189938. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189938
  3. National Health Care for the Homeless Council. (2019). Homelessness & Health: What’s the Connection. Retrieved from https://nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/homelessness-and-health.pdf
  4. Patterson, A. A., & Holden, R. R. (2012). Psychache and suicide ideation among men who are homeless: A test of Shneidman’s model. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 42(2), 147–156. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1943-278X.2011.00078.x
  5. Coohey, C., Easton, S. D., Kong, J., & Bockenstedt, J. K. W. (2015). Sources of psychological pain and suicidal thoughts among homeless adults. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 45(3), 271–280. https://doi.org/10.1111/sltb.12126
  6. DiCamillo, M. (2022). Release #2022: Voters offer a wide range of issues they’d like the state to address. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7sn293xs
  7. We All Count. (n.d.) San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. Retrieved September 19, 2023, from https://www.rtfhsd.org/about-coc/weallcount-pitc/                                                       
  8. United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). (n.d.). Homelessness Statistics by State. Retrieved September 9, 2022, from https://www.usich.gov/tools-for-action/map/#fn[]=1300&fn[]=2900&fn[]=6400&fn[]=10200&fn[]=13400
  9. County of San Diego 2022 Point-in-Time Data. (n.d.) San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. Retrieved from https://www.rtfhsd.org/reports-data
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Updated February 7, 2024