Homeless for the Holidays in the City

A year-end news roundup of the unmet challenge of getting people off the streets of downtown San Diego
An unsheltered man (left) and a rough scrabble encampment at Ninth Avenue and A Street in downtown San Diego. (December 2022)

There’s no Hallmark ending to 2022’s homelessness quagmire in downtown San Diego. More people than ever are winding up unsheltered. The city’s setting a record for the number of individuals who are dying while homeless. Overdoses and suicides are up. And the number of available public bathrooms are far from optimal.

It’s not a seasonal greeting card upper, but here’s an aggregated recap of recent news on the state of homelessness in downtown San Diego:

Newly Homeless 984, Recently Housed 625

Those headline numbers reflect countywide data collected from the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. In sum, people are falling into homelessness faster than they can be moved off the street. Recall that the Downtown San Diego Partnership, which does a monthly count in the city center, found a record 1,706 people living on the streets in November. (Voice of San Diego)

Homeless Deaths

According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, from January 1 to November 1 in 2022, 499 people experiencing homelessness died in San Diego County. That number is very likely underreported, since housing status is not often made known to the office. Of the 499 reported deaths, 311 were in the City of San Diego. (CBS8)

Overdose & Suicide at the Library

Plans to combat drug overdoses and suicide attempts at the downtown Central Library are being debated by the San Diego City Council. Overdoses and suicides are also up. One issue at hand: Whether to fund the addition of security officers or hire more mental health counselors. (SD Union-Tribune)

Sh!t Out of Luck

Less than half of the City of San Diego’s permanent restroom facilities are “truly open access” and just two are open 24/7, according to research by San Diego State University’s Project for Sanitation Justice. The Project’s survey found half of unsheltered respondents experienced discrimination when trying to use a public toilet and 44 percent resorted to defecating on the streets. (Voice of San Diego)

Rows of tents on C Street in downtown San Diego. (December 2022)

Unhappy Campers

The Downtown San Diego Partnership was one of several downtown groups advocating for the creation of a “safe campground” for the unsheltered population. After a year, Mayor Todd Gloria and city councilmember Stephen Whitburn say a pilot project is forthcoming, but a site has yet to materialize. (Voice of San Diego)

Shamrocks & Shipwrecks

Playing off the “Orchids & Onions” program that calls out good and bad architecture in San Diego, the inaugural “Shamrocks & Shipwrecks” program went public. The nonprofit Lucky Duck Foundation plans to continue this initiative to raise awareness of politicians and political entities for good (Shamrock) or bad (Shipwreck) actions that affect local homelessness. (San Diego Sun)

Shamrocks & Shamrocks

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office now puts out “An Update on Homelessness” e-newsletter. It offers “weekly news on how we’re addressing homelessness in San Diego every single day.” So far, all Shamrocks. (An Update on Homelessness) SDSun


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