SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Around 1,500 volunteers and community leaders conducted the annual count of homeless in San Diego County on Friday.

Results of the "WeAllCount" tabulation of the region's homeless population, which will be released in a couple months, figure into how much

federal grant money is received by governments and social organizations to help get people off the streets and into housing.

Last year, volunteers found 8,250 people in the county without a place to live, a 4 percent drop from the year before. More than half of them were

staying in a shelter run by a social service agency. 

Almost 60 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; and

-- 46 percent had severe mental health issues and 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.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Supervisor Greg Cox and San Diego City Council members Todd Gloria, Sherri Lightner, Scott Sherman and Chris Cate were among those who took part in this year's count.

While most of the political figures focused on downtown, Cate stayed in his council district, going through an area west of Interstate 15 between

Miramar Road and Mira Mesa Boulevard.

"Homelessness in the Sixth District looks different than in urban areas like downtown San Diego," Cate said in an email to City News Service.

"We identified campers/RVs that were parked on desolate streets," Cate said. "We saw bicycles and personal items at the entrance ways to canyons, perhaps indicating that someone was residing there. A solution-oriented and regional approach must be taken to mitigate and prevent homelessness."

This is the second year in which Cate, elected in November, has participated in the homeless count.