A new report estimates that 20,000 people in SF will experience homelessness at some point this year—and the unhoused Latino population has seen a particularly alarming uptick in numbers.
Although the total number of homeless people in San Francisco on a single night has decreased slightly since 2019, estimated at 7,754, new data released from the biannual homeless “point-in-time” count conducted in February and March revealed disparities among certain demographics and neighborhoods. Importantly, researchers tallied 833 more Latino people living on the city’s streets and in shelters than were counted in 2019.
That jump coincides with a sharp increase in unsheltered homelessness in District 9, which is made up of the Mission District, Bernal Heights and Portola, with the unsheltered population roughly doubling between 2019 and 2022.
“The Latinx community is now overrepresented in our point-in-time count,” said Sarah Locher, a data manager for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. “This is in line with what our community has suspected in terms of this being a hard-hit community during COVID.”
The survey results also describe an increase in total homelessness in District 5, which contains the Haight-Ashbury and the Western Addition, as well as in District 7, encompassing West Portal, St. Francis Wood and Park Merced.
Meanwhile, District 10—Bayview, Hunters Point and the Dogpatch—saw its homeless population decrease but still has the second-most unhoused people in the city after District 6.
Representatives from the Department of Homelessness attributed the decrease in District 10 to the opening of three navigation centers and the launch of an outreach team in the Bayview. The survey also found 746 fewer people living in their vehicles compared to 2019.
The data reflects the city’s old supervisorial districts, which were redistricted this year. The Tenderloin neighborhood, which is now in District 5 and has historically contained a large share of the city’s homeless population, was still in District 6 at the time of the count.
The February-March survey took place just a few weeks after Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the Tenderloin neighborhood, an effort that many residents and city leaders suspect shifted unhoused people into surrounding neighborhoods.
But District 6 still accounts for the most unhoused people in the city according to the data, experiencing a 5% increase in its homeless population since 2019.
Of the total surveyed homeless population, 17% reported that Covid was a primary driver of their lack of housing. More than 20% attributed their homelessness to losing their job, while 14% cited eviction and 12% pointed to alcohol and drug use.
Out of those surveyed, 71% reported having a residence in San Francisco when they became homeless.
All counties that receive federal funding for homeless services must participate in the biannual count, though critics argue that the survey is designed to show progress rather than depict the severity of the crisis. One common criticism is that the count is conducted in cold winter months when people may be staying with friends or family.
Looking at homeless service participation data, the department estimates that as many as 20,000 people experience homelessness in San Francisco over the course of a full year.
David Sjostedt can be reached at [email protected]
Noah Baustin can be reached at [email protected]