Homeless Population

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Every two years, communities across the country conduct comprehensive counts of their homeless populations in order to measure the prevalence of homelessness in each community. These biennial Point-in-Time homeless counts are required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of all jurisdictions receiving federal Homeless Assistance Grant funding to provide housing and services for homeless individuals and families. 

The biennial point-in-time counts are the primary source of nationwide data on sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons and help communities and the federal government better understand the nature of homelessness locally and nationwide. The Point in Time Count methodology has improved over the years and includes a visual assessment of people living unsheltered in San Francisco, a census of all shelter and transitional housing programs, and a survey of people experiencing homelessness. San Francisco combines these sources to produce Point in Time Count Reports.The Point-in-Time Count also helps to ensure San Francisco has access to federal funds that are essential for addressing homelessness and housing instability in our community.

See our interactive benchmarking dashboards to learn more about San Francisco's homeless residents and see how we compare with other cities, or download the latest point-in-time report to learn more about homelessness in San Francisco.


How San Francisco is Performing

The number of individuals counted in San Francisco's 2017 general street and shelter count was 6,986. This was an increase of more than 4% over the 2015 count. As of May 2019, initial estimates from the 2019 point-in-time count suggest an increase of 15-20% over the 2017 count. A more complete count will be released during Summer 2019.

Since 2013, San Francisco has conducted a supplemental youth count of individuals under the age of 25 on the same day as the general homeless count. Conducted in areas where youth tend to congregate by homeless youth peers, the youth count is intended to improve the quality of data on this subgroup. 

In 2017, the number of unsheltered individuals counted in the general street count was 3,840. The supplemental youth count identified an additional 513 unsheltered persons: 501 unaccompanied children and transitional-age youth, and 12 youth and children in youth-headed family households. The total number of unsheltered persons counted in on January 26, 2017 was 4,353. San Francisco’s Point-in-Time Count also includes a count of people staying in institutions and settings that fall outside the federal definition of homelessness. Of the additional 3,146 individuals included in the shelter count, 20% (641 people) were counted in residential programs, jails, and hospitals.

When the youth count and general count are combined, the total number of unsheltered and sheltered persons in San Francisco on January 26, 2017, was 7,499. This combined count shows a 2 percent increase since 2013.

How Performance is Measured

The federal definition for homelessness point-in time counts includes those individuals and families living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter, or those with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for regular sleeping accommodations such as cars, parks, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations, airport, or camping grounds. HUD guidelines exclude several categories of people counted as homeless by San Francisco, including people in jail, hospitals and many health treatment centers. These additional categories are included in San Francisco's methodology. San Francisco's supplemental counts are on average 10% higher than those reported to HUD.

The general street count was conducted on January 24, 2019, from approximately 8PM to midnight and covered all 47 square miles of San Francisco. The shelter count was conducted on the same evening and included all individuals staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing facilities, domestic violence shelters, jails, hospitals and treatment facilities. San Francisco’s 2019 point‐in‐time count was conducted by Applied Survey Research and coordinated by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

The number displayed on the scorecard page represents the annual count from 2017 in the chart above.

Additional Information


Please click first on the chart above and then click the “Download” button in the bottom right corner of the visualization to view and download the data displayed in the chart.