Homeless man
A homeless man in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday to continue paying San Diego County employees who voluntarily participate in the upcoming point-in-time count of the region’s homeless population.

Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas sponsored the pay proposal for the count, which is scheduled to begin at 4 a.m. on Jan. 26. The board approved the measure on consent, with Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer absent from the meeting, according to the county board clerk.

County employees have been compensated for their participation in the count since 2014. The amount of their pay for the work was not made available.

The San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness oversees the annual event, also known as “WeALLCount.”

According to the county, numbers are broken down into categories, including those who are chronically homeless, domestic violence victims, people with HIV/AIDS, veterans and youth.

Communities nationwide conduct similar events during the last 10 days of January. Figures from these counts are used to apply for federal funding, and allow governments to better understand the scope and impact of homelessness.

Vargas, board vice chairwoman, said count data “is so critical and important … If we can get more folks to participate, it would be fantastic.”

According to the board agenda, funding to pay employees will come from general purpose and program revenues, and won’t affect the general fund budget.

In a news release, Fletcher — who is board chairman — said having paid employees participate “symbolizes how important the count is to addressing this crisis.” In early 2022, 150 county employees were part of the 1,500 who participated in the annual census. Since 2014, 3,412 county workers have participated in the point-in-time count, according Fletcher and Vargas.

In late September, supervisors voted unanimously to declare homelessness a public health crisis, and also directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to work with city governments and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness on a regional approach to tackling the issue.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock