By Brian Gruters, Associate
Last month, LeSar Development Consultants staff joined hundreds of Angelinos and San Diegans walking city streets during the early morning hours, cataloguing people who are unable to find a decent place to sleep. Despite progress over the last several years, and positive developments on the horizon, California’s crisis of homelessness is as dire as ever. As a result, the annual Point in Time count, now in its 14th year, has become a sort of ritual for those working to end homelessness across the state.
Sadly, the details of the conversations we had weren’t surprising. Everyone interviewed was over 50 years old, had major barriers to finding a home or employment and had mental health and/or substance use issues.
Another interesting observation was that each person we interviewed was from San Diego County, and a majority were from the neighborhood they were currently living in. This again is reflective of regional trends where 74% of people experiencing homelessness in San Diego in 2018 became homeless within the County of San Diego. In LA that number is slightly higher at 75%. As a side note, the team also noticed that every single person they encountered was polite and willing to talk, despite being woken up early in the morning. Our conversations were filled with empathy for these human beings who seemed to appreciate being recognized as such.
Participating in the count this year made us reflect on what we do here at LDC. It reinforced things we advocate for, best practices in the field, such as a housing first approach to ending homelessness, and data-informed policy-making. Volunteering for the Point In Time count left us filled with gratitude for the work we do, the problems we are trying to impact in a positive way and for how fortunate we are to have work, a home and be part of a community that cares.