In places like downtown San Diego where there’s a visibly large homeless presence, there’s often a cluster of agencies and nonprofits that serve the homeless, too.
But in the South Bay of San Diego County, the homeless are far less visible – they don’t tend to set up tents or sleeping bags out on sidewalks, steps from business and in full public view. Instead they live multiple families to an apartment, in motels or tucked inside junkyards and storage containers.
And because of the hidden nature of South Bay homelessness, there are far fewer resources there to help struggling residents and families.
Most homelessness funding is doled out by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which lets local agencies and leaders decide where resources go. Those agencies and leaders tend to prioritize resources where homelessness is most visible.
Local agencies use an annual homelessness census to help determine priorities. That count tallies homeless people seen sleeping on streets, in cars and in canyons, then numbers are run through a formula to determine a countywide total. And those numbers paint a misleading picture of who’s struggling in the South Bay and reveals how different family homelessness looks.