The annual count of people is near

Fewer? More?

If you were forced to bet your mortgage or rent money on the number of homeless people this year’s Point-in-Time survey will reveal, which wager would you make?

Last year the survey found that nearly 10,000 people throughout the county were considered homeless.

The exact figure was 8,247. That was a 10 percent increase over 2020’s numbers.

Last year’s count was the first since 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic.

In Chula Vista city leaders had something they could pat themselves on the back over and use as selling points in campaign material—between 2020 and 2022 there was a decrease in the unsheltered population.

From 212 to 206.

National City, on the other hand, showed an increase. The number of unsheltered people there increased from 125 to 149 over a two year period beginning in 2020.

There are two important points to keep in mind when mulling over the figures provided by the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness:

• The yearly census conducted by Point in Time volunteers provides a snapshot of the population at a particular time in the year. The numbers show the number of homeless that counters can see or verify. It does not take into account those who are adept at hiding so well census takers overlook them, though they make good faith efforts to count who needs counting.

• Point two, and the most important one to keep in mind, the homeless are people.

It’s easy to consider that segment of the population as something other than what they are. When we have grown accustomed to using terms such as “homeless” and “unsheltered” to describe a segment of the population that live in our neighborhoods, it is easy to forget that the homeless are people.

They are mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and friends and even coworkers to someone.

They are people who have fears and hopes. They are people who, like you and like me, probably thought they would never find themselves where they are today.

The Point-in-Time count of people living on the streets is coming later this month. Will there be more or less people on the street than last year?