California homelessness statistics 2020

Homelessness in California

Each night more than half a million people in the United States are experiencing homelessness. While this housing crisis spans the entire country, the rate of homelessness in California is much higher than the national average. 

In the last point-in-time estimate there were 161,548 people experiencing homelessness on a given night in the state of California, that’s 28% of all people experiencing homelessness in the entirety of the United States.

From San Francisco to San Diego, we want to ensure that there is a comprehensive array of services available for those in need. For people who are living unsheltered, we want to provide shelter and basic needs. For those experiencing chronic homelessness, we want to provide resources to help them overcome any barriers on their journey to achieving housing and employment.

For over 70 years, Father Joe’s Villages has provided supportive services and housing for those in need in San Diego County. We have a comprehensive campus and scattered-site programs that house over 2,500 people nightly and provide wraparound programs.

But who are these neighbors who lack affordable housing in our community?

Housing insecurity in our neighborhood and in Continuums of Care (CoCs – local planning bodies responsible for coordinating the full range of homelessness services in a geographic area) is at an all-time high across the state of California. Knowing the challenges we face to making California a beautiful home for all its citizens is the first critical step to addressing the problem.

Below is the best available census of the population of those experiencing homelessness from the federal government. The information comes directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Community Planning and Development’s regular report on homelessness and is considered a point in time count of January 2020. It is an annual count that presents a snapshot of homelessness across our state. 

You can read more about national homelessness statistics here

Top Line Statistics of Homelessness In California

  • California has seen the largest increase in homelessness of any state year-over-year for rates of homelessness.
  • The vast majority of homelessness in the state of California takes place in unsheltered conditions, this means that a person is experiencing homelessness outside of homeless shelters or supportive housing units in temporary shelters.
  • Nearly 70% of the homeless population in California is unsheltered. 
  • From 2007 (when the first point-in-time census was taken) to 2020 California has had a 16.2% increase in individuals experiencing homelessness with 70.4% being unsheltered. 
  • In three major city CoCs, more than 75% of people experiencing homelessness were unsheltered. All three were in California: San Jose (83%), Long Beach (78%), and Oakland (78%).
  • California accounted for more than half of all unsheltered people in the entire country (51% or 113,660 people). This is nearly nine times the number of unsheltered people in Texas, the state with the next highest number.
  • 31% of all homeless veterans are in California. 
  • 6.5% of Californians identify as black or African American, but account for nearly 40% of the state’s homeless individuals. A closer look at Monterey County, the percentage of black or African Americans is more than seven times higher than the county’s black population. While only 3.5% of people in Monterey County identify as black or African American, 25% of the homeless population does. (Information for this statistic is taken from Cal Matters.)
  • California has 31% of all homeless veterans.
  • Closer to home, the picture looks even more dire: Imperial County, CA – on the southern border of California – reporting the highest rate of its category 87% of homeless residents make regular sleeping accommodation unsheltered. 
Major cities and counties in California with unsheltered homelessness 2020

This graph is not just taking in information about California, but starkly illustrates the needs in our communities vs. the rest of the country. The vast majority of the unhoused population is in Southern California and illustrates the need for interim housing units and services. 

More data is available on the HUD website and in their incredibly helpful yearly report which can be viewed here

Homelessness in San Diego

At least 7,600 people are experiencing homelessness every night in San Diego. 

Of those, nearly 4,000 men, women, and children lie down to sleep each night on sidewalks, in doorways, canyons, and alleys. 

They live without regular access to food or water and no place to use the bathroom, wash their hands, bathe, or do laundry. We believe that these are basic human rights, and want to do everything we can to help.

People who are homeless have greater health risks such as serious illness, mental health issues, substance abuse, and violence. They are 3-4x more likely to die prematurely than those who are housed, have 3-6x higher rate of illness than their housed peers, and are 10x more likely to be the victim of a violent crime. 

Father Joe’s Village Mission And Values

What this says to us at Father Joe’s Village is that there are people in our own community that are in dire need and we can help.

We believe in effective solutions to counter the lack of resources and lack of access to equitable and affordable housing. 

Father Joe’s Village has helped nearly 12,000 people achieve permanent housing in the last 10 years alone. 

We have organized our services around four pillars of care to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in our community:

We Meet Basic Needs

We restore dignity by combining evidence-based housing models with the services and support people need to get off the streets for good. We provide emergency shelter, longer-term shelter, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, affordable housing, and provide ongoing support. 

We Invest In Children

Our childcare and family services are dedicated to preparing children who are homeless for success. We do this by integrating behavioral, developmental, and clinical services within our Therapeutic Childcare program. This includes child development programs, behavioral health clinics, family literacy programs, after-school programs, parenting support, and mentorship for youth.

We Make Health A Priority

Our Village Health Center provides medical, dental, psychiatric, behavioral health, and substance use disorder treatment all in one location. Our medical services address diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, COPD, and other acute and chronic conditions. 

We Help Strengthen Self-Sufficiency

Our highly-trained staff provides education, vocational training, and real-world tools for obtaining work through employment classes that teach skills, job placements and development, and job searching support. 

Help us prevent and end homelessness one life at a time today. Click here to donate time, money, or goods to help meet our greater community’s needs.