San Francisco Homeless Population Is Reportedly Double What We Thought

The homelessness problem in San Francisco is reportedly much bigger than city officials first thought. The number may have nearly doubled in the last two years.

Cities and counties typically use the point-in-time method a determining the homeless population. Volunteers walk through communities taking note of people sleeping on the streets or staying in shelters. The 2019 point-in-time count for San Francisco shows 8,011 people without a permanent residence this year, according to a New York Times report. That's an increase of 17 percent from 2017.

However, the paper says the city's Department of Public Health has used another means of counting that resulted in a much larger number of 17,595 people or an increase of 30 percent over the last 12 months.

The health officials used a database of homeless people receiving social services from the city, including health care assistance. They reportedly turned to that database due to a greater emphasis on finding homeless people at shelters and in hospitals.

The official caution that there is no one way to get a homeless count, and they note that it's a difficult process due to the transitory nature of the people involved.

A new statewide survey has found that most Californians support building more homeless shelters. A poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California finds that 85-percent of respondents are concerned about the state's homeless people. It also shows that at least half of those surveyed say they think the homeless population has increased in the past year.