sf bay-compressed

Photo: Mike Connealy/Flickr

For a 7×7-mile wide city, San Francisco packs in a tragic number of homeless individuals. The current count, released in a report sanctioned by the City, is now at 7,499. Thankfully, that number is down slightly from 7,530 in 2015, but still higher than the 3,593 counted in 2013. About half of San Francisco’s homeless population reside in District 6, where the Tenderloin and SOMA neighborhoods are located.

The count was conducted by the social research firm Applied Survey Research (ASR) over one night in January, when cooler temperatures may have lowered numbers. Over 750 community volunteers walked around San Francisco gathering data during a single night, attempting to decipher whether the city’s wandering inhabitants were homeless. This is done by sight only, as the volunteers are not allowed to ask anyone if they are homeless.

Of course, this leads to wrong assumptions. In the weeks that followed, a more in-depth survey of 1,104 sheltered and unsheltered homeless occurred. Answers were anonymous and the survey was conducted by other homeless people so that respondents would feel more comfortable.

This past year the City has spent $275 million on homelessness and housing through the new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing — $34 million more than the year before. This number is expected to rise again to $305 million.

While the number of homeless families and children have decreased, there are now more single adults on the streets. Two years ago there were 853 homeless children; that number has since decreased significantly to 513.

Homelessness is typically a recurring and chronic state of living. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they had been homeless for a year or longer, and 75 percent said they had previously experienced homelessness.

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