SF expects 20,000 residents to become homeless this year

City counted 7,754 unhoused residents in February, a 3.5% drop since 2019

Homelessness, San Francisco, homeless count, federal funding, Bayview-Hunters Point

For every homeless resident who finds shelter through a city program in San Francisco, four more end up on the street.

That’s the conclusion of the latest homeless count, which estimates that up to 20,000 residents will become homeless throughout the year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The official point-in-time count, released this week, reports the number of homeless residents fell 3.5 percent since 2019 to 7,754 residents, from 8,035 three years ago.

The one-night count was conducted in February, after the last tally in 2019. The counts are normally taken every two years to qualify for federal funding, but skipped a year because of the pandemic.

The one-sheltered, four-more-become-homeless estimate rose from the 1-to-3 figure commonly used by local nonprofits, which have long estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 residents become homeless over the course of a year.

“People are falling into homelessness faster than we can house them,” said Tomiquia Moss, founder and CEO of All Home, a regional housing advocacy group. “We know how to house people, but we have too little of what we need.”

The pandemic has hit minorities especially hard, in homeless numbers reflected in the 70-page report.

The number of Latinos in shelters or on the street rose 55 percent in the past three years, from 1,524 to 2,357 residents. Latinos now make up 30 percent of the homeless population, compared with being 16 of the population at large.

Black residents make up 38 percent of the homeless population, while representing 6 percent of the general population.

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The percentage of homeless people with drug or alcohol problems was 52 percent, up from 42 percent in 2019.

On the plus side, the number of unsheltered people — those living in tents, vehicles or on the street — dropped 15 percent to 4,397 people in three years. People living in cars made up 24 percent of the unsheltered count, a drop from 35 percent in 2019.

There were 2,691 chronically homeless people this year, an 11 percent drop since 2019.

The percentage of people living in San Francisco when they became homeless was 71 percent, a number that hasn’t changed for years.

The number of homeless people in jails, hospitals and residential treatment facilities, counted separately, dropped 30 percent to 1,238, from 1,773 in 2019.

The city made progress on housing and shelter in District 10, which includes Bayview-Hunters Point, an area with significant pockets of poverty. The overall numbers there fell 39% from 1,841 to 1,115, and the unsheltered number fell 55% to 687.

In San Francisco, government data on homeless residents of the city is imprecise, with current estimates ranging between 8,000 to 19,000 people. The most recent data show a 41 percent increase in the number of homeless tents and structures last March from a year before.

Dana Bartholomew