San Francisco’s homeless count reveals drop in chronic homelessness 

A recent count of San Francisco’s homeless population revealed a decrease in the number of chronically homeless from last year, a city agency announced Wednesday.

On Jan. 27 more than 300 volunteers identified 6,455 homeless, compared to 6,514 in 2009, according to the San Francisco Human Services Agency.

In a more dramatic decrease, a follow-up survey of 1,024 of the homeless identified revealed a drop in chronic homelessness — from 62 percent in 2009 to 33 percent this year.

Agency officials credit the drop in chronic homelessness to The City’s strategic efforts to target the issue.

“In 2004, San Francisco adopted a focused strategy to work with chronically homeless individuals and families,” said Trent Rhorer, executive director of San Francisco Human Services Agency in a statement.

“By placing the chronically homeless in permanent housing with supportive services through San Francisco’s ‘Housing First Program,’ we have made significant progress to end chronic homelessness,” he said.

A biennial homeless count is federally mandated for all jurisdictions receiving funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, agency officials said.

San Francisco City and County receive $18 million in McKinney/Vento federal funding, which goes to support homeless services, agency officials said.

Apart from being federally mandated, agency officials said, the survey is critical to The City’s planning for homeless services.

Of the homeless counted — the majority of whom were black and white single men — agency officials determined that 3,106 were living on the streets or in a vehicle and 3,349 were living in some sort of shelter, including transitional housing, jails and emergency shelters.

The follow-up survey also revealed that 27 percent of those surveyed had become homeless elsewhere and then moved to the city.

The largest percentage of homeless in The City, around 40 percent, were found in District 6, which includes the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods. The smallest percentage was found in District 7, which includes neighborhoods west of Twin Peaks.

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