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Despite record spending on homelessness, San Diego unsheltered population grows

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(The Center Square) – San Diego’s new program, the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department, is set to spend $44 million in 2024, a 20% increase over the previous year.

The city reported it had 5,082 people identified as homeless with 2,600 unsheltered as of January 2019. The city reported 6,500 people were homeless within the city with 3,285 unsheltered as of January 2023.

The city stated in 2019 its goal was to decrease the population of unsheltered homeless people by 50% within three years. Instead, that population, as of 2023, has increased 26%.

San Diego is projecting a five-year budget deficit ranging from $136.8 million to as high as $160.3 million, according to city documents. Despite this, the city has created a new department to overtake the growing homelessness situation.

The Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department was created to help the efforts of housing individuals experiencing homelessness and living in dangerous conditions near state highways and other unsafe conditions.

The department was started on Oct. 18, 2021.

Though just three years old, the department has spent $113.6 million throughout the department, including the $44 million projected for the 2024 fiscal year according to documents.

Some programs available through the department for those experiencing homelessness in San Diego are homeless shelters and services, outreach efforts, safe parking and safe sleeping, storage, and prevention and diversion programs.

The city currently has roughly 6,500 individuals experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness and has helped more than 1,000 individuals exit to positive housing destinations, according to the department’s website.

The department has seen increased spending since being created, with a total budget of $36.7 million in 2021 and $44 million in 2024.

The mayor’s office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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