Volunteers hit the streets for San Diego homeless count - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Volunteers hit the streets for San Diego homeless count

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - About 1,700 volunteers hit the streets of San Diego County today in the pre-dawn hours to help officials get a look at how widespread the homelessness problem is in the region.

They walked along downtown sidewalks, checked shelters, looked under freeway overpasses and scoured canyons to get a snapshot or a Point-in-Time Count organized by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a homeless count every two years, so that information can be passed on to Congress, According to Dolores Diaz, executive director of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

While this is a mandatory year for the count, the task force does it every year.

"It helps us when we apply for federal competitive dollars, to bring that money to San Diego to help us with beds and services," Diaz said. "We really have to look at what happens to our system over time."

The problem appears to have grown over the past six months or so.

Last year, 8,692 homeless were counted, with more than 4,900 of them unsheltered. While the overall total was a bit lower than the year before, the number of people living on the streets was up almost 19 percent.

According to the task force, the San Diego area has the fourth-highest homeless population nationally, but ranks only 22nd in funding.

Last year, local officials said federal officials planned to change the formula in order to provide San Diego with more funding.

Several elected officials gathered at Golden Hall to participate in the count, among them Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, state Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, county Supervisor Greg Cox, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council members David Alvarez, Scott Sherman and Chris Ward.

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