San Diego homeless population drops

SAN DIEGO - Fewer people were living on the streets of San Diego County this past winter, according to the results of an annual one-day count released Thursday.

The Regional Task Force on the Homeless also found evidence of fewer long-term homeless people among the 8,520 without a place to live.

The count that took place in January showed a 4 percent drop in the homeless population from last year. More than half were staying in a shelter run by a social service agency.

The task force found 58 percent of those surveyed had been homeless for more than a year, compared to 69 percent in 2013.

Among other statistics provided by the task force:

  • 74 percent were men, down 1 percent from the year before;
  • 17 percent were veterans, up 2 percent;
  • 46 percent had severe mental health issues;
  • 31 percent had major substance abuse problems.

The data also showed that half the homeless had been to an emergency room in the past year. About 1,350 people volunteered for the early-morning count, according to the task force.

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