A man sleeps next to trash cans in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone
A man sleeps next to trash cans in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Father Joe’s Villages said Thursday a recent big increase in the downtown homeless population is “extremely disheartening” and called for more affordable housing to be built throughout San Diego County.

The monthly count by the Downtown San Diego Partnership found that the number of homeless living in the city’s center in November was 52% higher than a year ago.

The count found 1,706 individuals living on the streets, compared to 1,124 in the same month of 2021.

“The upward trend of people living on downtown streets is extremely concerning and disheartening,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “It is clear that more people are falling into homelessness than what the current system can serve.”

Vargas called for efforts to build more affordable housing throughout the county to break the “cycle of homelessness.”

“With the average apartment renting for more than $2,700 a month, many San Diegans struggle simply to keep a roof over their heads,” he said. “The region needs to build an adequate supply of affordable housing throughout the county, including in downtown San Diego.”

He said that funding sources need to be expanded, and the permitting and entitlement processes streamlined to create more housing.

But he vowed that Father Joe’s and other homeless services providers were committed to increasing their capacity to help individuals on the streets.

Father Joe’s is San Diego’s largest homeless services provider, housing for more than 2,500 people each night and providing health care, substance use disorder treatment, job training and therapeutic childcare.


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Ellen Bullock