More than 8,500 people in San Diego County were homeless in January, according to the latest annual assessment done by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

Those individuals were counted living on the streets and in shelters, representing a 7.8 percent increase from the 2009 count of 7,892.

The biggest increase was in people living unsheltered on the street. The task force found there were 4,531 individuals on the street, a 12.8 percent increase from 2009.

The number of people staying in shelters rose by 2.5 percent from 2009, to 3,975.

Government agencies require local counts like this to help divvy up federal dollars for agencies assisting the homeless.

The count is done by the task force and its 400 volunteers every year through the county. It is a “point-in-time” count — an estimate — and not meant to provide a comprehensive view of homelessness in San Diego County, the group said.

Here’s a bit more about the methodology of the count, from the task force’s press release:

It is conducted on one day (4am and 8am) in order to avoid duplication. Due to the inherent challenges, it is impossible to account for every person who may be homeless: a very large geographic area; unknown locations for some homeless persons; volunteers’ safety; and more. For various reasons, people may experience homelessness at different times and they may not be captured in this count.


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