Encinitas looks to continue Homeless Action Plan to build on slight decrease in homeless count numbers

City of Encinitas
(Karen Billing)

After the annual point-in-time homeless count showed slight decreases throughout coastal North County, Encinitas will continue implementing its Homeless Action Plan.

“It was nice that they went down,” Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz said of the homeless count numbers. “Obviously they only went down a very small amount, and quite frankly I don’t really put much credence in the numbers we get from the point-in-time count.”

The annual point-in-time count relies on volunteers who walk up and down every street throughout the county and keep a tally of every person who appears to be experiencing homelessness. Factors such as the weather on the particular day in January when the count takes place can affect the accuracy of the numbers. Despite concerns over its accuracy, the numbers play a role in how funding is allocated to local communities to address homelessness.

In Encinitas, which is also bundled with Solana Beach and Del Mar in the homeless count results, the total unsheltered population dipped from 76 in 2022 to 73 in 2023. Oceanside saw a slightly larger decrease of 318 in 2022 to 290 in 2023. In Carlsbad, it went from 318 to 290 between 2022 and 2023.

Countywide, the homeless count showed a 25.9% increase in the unsheltered population, including a 31.7% increase in the city of San Diego.

“I continue to depend upon the resources we have on the streets that are working on our unhoused population and doing everything we can to find shelter for everyone,” Kranz said. “Homelessness is a societal problem that has been with us forever and is not going to be going away. All we can hope to do is reduce it to the smallest number possible.”

The Encinitas City Council launched the city’s Homeless Action Plan in 2019 to better keep track of demographic information and other stats about the homeless population, in addition to holding outreach and evaluating best practices.

“We’re going to continue to implement the Homeless Action Plan per the timeline that was established and reviewed just recently,” Kranz said. “We have another meeting about homelessness and a look at some other things that we’re doing in the Homeless Action Plan, that will be in August. The conversation and discussion and refinement of that plan will continue.”

The city is also working on adding affordable housing.

“I am not naive, that’s not going to be a near-term solution,” Kranz said. “We have other things we’re going to need to be working on.”

Tony Manolatos, a spokesperson for the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness, said the agency is not granting interviews.

John Van Cleef, CEO of the nonprofit Community Resource Center in Encinitas, said the North County coastal cities that have dedicated resources for addressing homelessness have an advantage in prevention efforts and other assistance.

“More people are entering homelessness and we’re seeing a greater impact of that in the city of San Diego, which you see then throughout the county of San Diego,” Van Cleef said. “So that is discouraging. The factors contributing to that, we talk about inflation and if we were to just identify the rising cost of rent, gas, utilities, groceries and even insurance. That is making people who are living paycheck to paycheck more economically vulnerable.”

Services in Encinitas include the Safe Parking program operated by Jewish Family Service. Before it was approved by council members, residents voiced their concerns that it would attract other people experiencing homelessness to Encinitas. Those concerns are echoed by residents throughout the state when their community is considering new services for the local homeless population.

“People tend to find services where they enter homelessness from,” Van Cleef said. “Providing services doesn’t attract people to come and find the services from other communities.”