Homelessness on the rise in Encinitas, study finds

Homelessness in Encinitas is up about 25 percent in the last year, according to findings from a point-in-time homeless count earlier this year.

In a study released April 20, the San Diego County-based Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFHSD) found 117 people were living on the streets or in shelters in Encinitas, compared to 93 people last year.

The individuals were counted on the early morning of Jan. 27 by 76 volunteers, who ventured across the city to help identify homeless individuals.

More specifically, 33 people were found to be living in emergency shelters, safe havens or traditional housing, according to the RTFHSD's report. An additional 84 were found to be living on the streets, in automobiles or in hand-built structures or tents, in the city, the study found.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear considered it important to know the number of homeless individuals so the city can figure out how to prioritize resources.

She said she was not surprised the numbers have gone up.

"A look around our city, and other cities in San Diego, makes it clear that we have a problem," she said in an interview. "People want to live inside. The confluence of factors that results in people living on the street is a real tragedy."

Blakespear said the city has put additional resources into a safety net program called "Opening Doors," in which they were able to house 19 people previously living on the streets of Encinitas last year.

"That tells me that we can affect change," she said.

In the entire North County Coastal region, a total of 814 people were found to be homeless, either sheltered or unsheltered. This is a 7 percent drop compared to last year's numbers, according to RTFHSD.

The county total for 2017 was 9,116, a 5 percent increase compared to last year.

"Having these numbers to work with puts in black and white what many of us have been sensing: Homelessness is on the rise," said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who chairs the RTFHSD, in a statement. "Yet while the overall increase is disappointing, trends around the region, and with certain groups such as veterans, are encouraging. We also are transitioning our homeless programs from temporary shelters to permanent housing, which takes longer to create in the quantities that make a difference. I find many challenges with the results, along with much to be encouraged about in the months and years ahead."

The next Point-in-Time count is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2018.

For more information, visit www.rtfhsd.org

Copyright © 2017, Encinitas Advocate
64°