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Downtown San Diego homeless population reaches another record high

The homeless population in downtown San Diego has reached yet another record high for the sixth straight month, with about 1,900 people counted on Jan. 31.

The monthly count conducted by the Downtown San Diego Partnership should not be confused with the annual point-in-time count that covers the entire county and was conducted Jan. 26. Results of that count will not be released for a few months and will contain demographic information about the people counted, while the partnership survey is strictly a tally of people spotted on sidewalks, in vehicles or estimated to be in tents.

The Downtown Partnership count found 1,939 homeless people Jan. 31, exactly 100 more than the December count. As in past months, the largest homeless population was in the East Village area, which found 794 people. That number, however, actually was lower than the previous month’s East Village count of 850 people.

The count breaks downtown San Diego into seven different neighborhoods, and the data shows the population sometimes rises and falls in different places each month. For instance, the largest increase in January occurred in an area the Downtown Partnership refers to as the outside perimeter, which jumped from 491 in December to 640 in January. The area includes the northern part of Barrio Logan, the western part of Golden Hill and Sherman Heights.

The overall increase does not appear a result of people merely moving from one neighborhood to another, however. The population has been surging for most of the past 12 months, and has reached a new record high each month since August, when the count found 1,609 people.

Looking at the average monthly count over the past decade also shows a dramatic increase, although the population has ebbed and flowed. In 2012, the average monthly homeless population was just 582, and was even lower in 2013 when it was 548. It increased to about 1,000 in 2016 and 2017, but fell to a monthly average of 656 in 2020, the year the city opened a large shelter in the San Diego Convention Center.

No year in the past decade of the count has seen population as high as 2022, which had a monthly average of 1,515. With the latest count hitting a new record high, the trend does not seem to slowing.

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