A homeless person sleeping alongside their belongings in Vista on Jan. 26, 2023 / Photo by Tigist Layne

Data from San Diego County’s annual homeless census was released last week revealing an overall spike in homelessness countywide.  

In North County, some cities saw a dip in their homeless populations, while a few others, like Escondido, saw significant increases. 

Here’s what this year’s point-in-time count revealed about homelessness in North County. 

The Numbers 

North County had the third-largest homeless population in the county with a total of 1,436 people, making up 14 percent of the region’s homeless population, data shows.  

Broken down, coastal North County had 783 homeless people, or 8 percent of the countywide total, and inland North County had 653 homeless people, or 6 percent. 

Graph by Ariana Drehsler

The most significant change was in Escondido, which saw a 67 percent increase in its unsheltered homeless population compared to last year. It now has the highest unsheltered homeless population in North County, beating out Oceanside, which took the top spot last year

This means Escondido has the third-highest unsheltered homeless population in San Diego County. 

Graph by Ariana Drehsler

There are only three permanent homeless shelters in North County providing 144 beds in total for the region’s entire homeless population. One of those shelters is in Escondido and is operated by nonprofit Interfaith Community Services. 

Interfaith CEO Greg Anglea has previously told Voice of San Diego that the Escondido shelter, as well as the other two shelters in North County, are always full. 

Interfaith is opening a 36-bed family homeless shelter in Escondido later this summer. 

Vista also saw a spike in its unsheltered homeless population, according to the point-in-time count, increasing by more than 15 percent. 

All the other cities in North County saw slight to moderate decreases in their unsheltered homeless populations, including Carlsbad, which saw a 20 percent decrease. 

In coastal North County, 44 percent of the unsheltered homeless population and 10 percent of the sheltered homeless population were chronically homeless. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development considers someone chronically homeless if they have a disability and have spent at least a year on the street.   

In inland North County, 43 percent of unsheltered homeless people and 20 percent of sheltered homeless people were chronically homeless. 

Things to Remember 

The count itself was conducted back in January when more than 1,600 volunteers fanned out across the county one extremely early morning to count unhoused people. 

I joined a group of volunteers in Vista and learned a few key things about the count that I think are important to keep in mind. 

First, in North County, the count comes with its own set of challenges. The homeless population is much more spread out compared to downtown San Diego, allowing for much higher opportunities to miss people. 

Second, it’s a bare minimum count. Voice of San Diego has previously reported that the numbers likely represent a minimum of San Diego’s homeless population. And other data from the Regional Taskforce on Homelessness has proven that this count is only a snapshot of the homelessness crisis in the county.  

I saw this firsthand during my experience in Vista. 

A series of storms that had hit San Diego just a couple of days before the count likely displaced many unhoused people. The nomadic nature of homeless people can also cause severe undercounting. And finally, the difficulty we faced even seeing some homeless people in the dark early morning hours means many people living in shadowy areas or in their vehicles may have been missed. 

The annual census of homeless people is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for all communities that get federal funding for homeless services. 

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. If you love reading the North County Report and all the other valuable content my colleagues and I produce, please consider supporting our reporting coverage with a contribution today. And make sure to become a member and join us at our Member Coffee event on June 21 in North County http://vosd.org/community. 

In Other News

  • After weeks of protests and criticism from many residents, the Carlsbad City Council decided Tuesday it will raise a Pride Flag over Carlsbad City Hall for the month of June. Last month, a policy for commemorative flags, including the Pride Flag, failed 3-2 because it needed four votes to pass. This week’s decision by the council will allow for the Pride Flag without creating a policy for commemorative flags. (Union-Tribune) 
  • A temporary wall is planned to protect the railroad tracks from the slowly moving landslide in San Clemente that has suspended rail service between San Diego and Orange County. Amtrak and Metrolink rail services between the two counties have been suspended since June 5. (Union-Tribune) 
  • Former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer recently confirmed to Voice of San Diego that he is seriously considering a run for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 3 seat. District 3 encompasses Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Del Mar. (Voice of San Diego) 
  • Related: Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey is also expected to challenge Supervisor Terra Lawson- Remer, the Coast News reported. Bailey hasn’t formally announced but has recently pulled papers and launched a new website. (Coast News) 

Tigist Layne is Voice of San Diego's north county reporter. Contact her directly at tigist.layne@voiceofsandiego.org or (619) 800-8453. Follow her...

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1 Comment

  1. I applaud the council for this effort. Hopefully it will force people on the street to pursue the help they need to get off the street. It will be better for everyone in the long run.

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