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News & information from the City of San Diego

From the Mayor's Desk

Surveying People Experiencing Homelessness in Downtown San Diego to Better Understand How to Help  

homeless survey san diego 2023

In early October, City staff and community partners surveyed people experiencing homelessness in Downtown San Diego as part of an effort to better understand their needs and how we can help them end their homelessness.  

The Downtown Unsheltered Homeless Engagement Survey's primary objectives were to identify the current unsheltered population, understand when and why they became unhoused, and explore opportunities and resources to facilitate placements into shelters or permanent housing.  

The survey covered several locations in downtown San Diego and was made possible through collaboration with various service partners and stakeholders, including the San Diego Day Center, the Downtown San Diego Partnership, Father Joe’s Village, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), People Assisting the Homeless, Alpha Project and others.  

Key takeaways include:  

  • 48 percent of those surveyed said that a congregate shelter setting would meet their needs 

  • 21 percent said there is a person with whom they feel safe who might welcome them into their homes 

  • 26 percent said they were struggling to access mental health care 

  • 38 percent said they used fentanyl, heroine and/or meth  

Data like this helps the City’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department and our community partners make decisions about what programs and services to provide at both current shelters and future homeless service sites such as H Barracks. For example, the 21 percent of people who say they have people they can turn to for housing may be good candidates for the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Family Reunification Program. 

Homelessness is a crisis, and we need to continue to work to provide safe places for people to get out of street encampments and connected with services that will help them end their homelessness. 

We’ve created several facilities across our city with great success – and in partnership with the communities hosting them – and I look forward to continue using our data-driven approach to help drive future solutions to addressing our city’s most serious crisis.