According to a study released in August, the number of people living on the streets in San Diego County may be 50 percent higher than thought. That means the annual count of homeless people overall could be much greater than numbers the federal government uses to fund housing programs. The study was led by University of New Hampshire statistician Chris Glynn and sponsored by the real estate database company Zillow and it took into account the relationship of housing costs to homelessness, a departure from the traditional head-count method in determining the number of homeless people. The study examined numbers from the 2016 point-in-time count and included U.S. Census data and the Zillow rent index from 25 cities. It also factored in the number of “true” homeless by extrapolating from an earlier study that found the point-in-time count in New York missed 41 percent of unsheltered people. Glynn wrote in the introduction to the study that
The relationship between housing costs and homelessness has important implications for the way that city and county governments respond to increasing homeless populations.
In 2016, the annual count in San Diego found 8,669 homeless people, while the Zillow study estimated there actually were 11,149, a difference of 28.6 percent. That same year, the count revealed 4,940 people were living outside, while the Zillow study estimated there actually were 7,420, a difference of 50 percent. Data from the annual count is added into a formula the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses to determine funding for homeless programs. The study should help cities out in trying to figure out a better representation of the homeless population in a city. Hopefully more funding will be made available in cities that undercount their homeless population.