Downtown San Diego homeless population reaches record high for the sixth month in a row

People stand alongside small tents on a city sidewalk.
Teams of volunteers fan out in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood during a count of homeless people in January.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The homeless population in downtown San Diego reached another record high for the sixth straight month, with about 1,900 people counted on Jan. 31.

The monthly count conducted by the Downtown San Diego Partnership should not be confused with the annual point-in-time count that covers the entire county and was conducted Jan. 26. The results of that count will not be released for a few months and will contain demographic information, whereas the partnership survey is strictly a tally of people spotted on sidewalks, in vehicles or estimated to be in tents.

The Downtown Partnership count found 1,939 homeless people Jan. 31, exactly 100 more than the December count. As in past months, the largest homeless population was in the East Village area, with a count of 794 people. But that was lower than the previous month’s East Village count of 850.


The count breaks downtown San Diego into seven neighborhoods, and the data show the population sometimes rises and falls in different places each month. For instance, the largest increase in January occurred in an area referred to as the outside perimeter, which jumped from 491 in December to 640 in January. The area includes the northern part of Barrio Logan, the western part of Golden Hill and Sherman Heights.

The overall increase, however, does not appear to be a result of people merely moving from one neighborhood to another. The population has been surging for most of the last 12 months, reaching a new record high each month since August, when the count found 1,609 people.

Over the last decade, the average monthly count has shown a dramatic increase, although the population has ebbed and flowed. In 2012, the average monthly homeless population was 582. It was even lower in 2013, at 548. It increased to about 1,000 in 2016 and 2017 but fell to a monthly average of 656 in 2020, the year the city opened a large shelter in the San Diego Convention Center.

No year in the last decade of the count had seen a population as large as in 2022, which had a monthly average of 1,515.

With the latest tally hitting a new record high, the trend does not seem to be slowing.