There are nearly 10,000 homeless men, women, and children in San Diego. This past weekend nonprofit San Diego Rescue Mission sought to raise awareness on the prevalence and severity of San Diego homelessness with their “Sleepless San Diego” event, now in its 6th year.
The event aimed to educate the community by having participants simulate the multitude of challenges the homeless community faces everyday. Participants slept outside for the evening and listened to organizations and individuals talk about outreach, support, and charity in the hopes of sparking San Diegans to actively support solutions to homelessness.
Registration fees for the event, as well as additional contributions, all go to the San Diego Rescue Mission to support their wide variety of services. SDRM acts as a shelter, food pantry, education center, and rehabilitation facility.
“Sleepless” also featured a powerful photography exhibit which displayed portraits of the San Diego homeless. The organizer of the project, Linda Lopez, who is a volunteer with SDRM said she wanted to take a second look at homelessness in San Diego. Lopez says she wants people to be asking themselves how they can help the homeless in our community, especially when the issue is much more pervasive than we often imagine. “People don’t realize that homelessness can happen to anyone. It gets to your heart. It’s hard not to walk away from this and say, ‘How can I help?’”
Many more people have faced homelessness since the recession hit in 2007. A lack of access to affordable housing, as well as difficulty in finding and retaining employment, has led many people to seek out services of organizations such as the San Diego Rescue Mission. In addition to providing temporary support and services, the Mission also supports more permanent solutions to chronic homelessness.
“We believe that permanent supportive housing offers the most successful intervention of ending chronic homelessness. This option couples permanent housing with ongoing supportive services that target the specific needs of an individual or family. Permanent supportive housing has helped reduce chronic homelessness in other cities across the country.”
Another organization focused on ending chronic homelessness, Home Again, also advocates for permanent supportive housing. They have buttressed, and participated in, the success of such programs in other American cities, and report that such initiatives actually save cities money.
Some Statistics on San Diego Homelessness:
1 in 4 homeless San Diegans are young adults, aged 18-30.
Since 2007, homelessness has increased 28% in the United States.
Since 2011, homelessness has increased 8.6% in San Diego. Number may be even higher, as the survey doesn’t account for the “hidden homeless,” which include people living in their cars or hopping around homes of friends and family.