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January 30, 2014

To solve a problem, we must first really understand the scope of that problem. That is the thinking behind WeALLCount, the annual point-in-time homeless count that takes place throughout San Diego County. Coordinated by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the event aims to assess homelessness so that the region can implement appropriate services and identify solutions that enable individuals and families to become housed again.

This year’s event took place in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 24, when a record 1,300 volunteers, including elected officials and civic leaders, gathered at 20 deployment stations throughout the county before setting out to count and engage with San Diego homeless. 

San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) President and CEO Peter Callstrom participated in the count. “This event is so important to understanding the homeless issue in San Diego County,” he says. “It is only by understanding both the scope and the personal impact of homelessness that we can find solutions to this complex problem and better enable people to permanently leave homelessness.” Callstrom adds that the SDWP is playing an important role in the process to enable individuals and their families to become economically secure. “Through our 13 America’s Job Centers locations in our County, and in partnership with our funded service providers, we serve many who are on their path to permanently leaving the streets or shelters,” he says.

The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, LeSar Development Consultants, and the Downtown San Diego Partnership hosted elected officials and community leaders for the event to survey homeless individuals in the downtown area. Volunteers included San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria; Rep. Scott Peters; County Supervisor Greg Cox; San Diego City Council members Sherri Lightner, David Alvarez, Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman; and Assemblywoman Toni Atkins. 

The count tracks homeless who are “unsheltered” (on the street, vehicle, hand-built structure), including an in-depth, personal interview with at least 10 percent of unsheltered persons. It also tracks “sheltered” (shelters and transitional housing) homeless by counting the number of people who sleep in the region’s homeless shelters on the night of Jan. 23. According to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, “Demographic data regarding those sheltered is derived from the region’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which is administered by RTFH. This data, along with an assessment of the shelter bed capacity for the region, is used to evaluate the unmet need in the county. Once completed, the analysis is reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and used, along with Point-in-Time Count data from communities across the country, to produce the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) for Congress.”

Last year’s count found 4,574 unsheltered individuals (a 13.2 percent decrease from 2012) and 4,305 sheltered individuals (a 1.5 percent decrease from 2012). Results for this year’s count will be available in the spring.

*First two photos courtesy Kristoffer Newsom/

Second two photos by Peter Callstrom.

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