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

8,035 homeless individuals were counted in San Francisco's 2019 point-in-time street and shelter count. This was an increase of more than 14% over the 2017 count.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing adjusted the methodology used to report the point-in-time count for 2019 to align with federal standards used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Previously, the count reported a number of individuals that did not fall under the federal standard definition of homelessness, such as individuals “doubled-up” in the homes of family or friends, individuals staying in jails, hospitals, or residential facilities, and families living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units. Under this previous, more expansive definition - referred to in the chart as the "San Francisco standard" - the 2019 count was 9,808; an increase of more than 30% over the 2017 count.

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. 

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. 

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 pointintime count was conducted by Applied Survey Research and coordinated by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

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.