SAN FRANCISCO—The city of San Francisco will continue to count the number of homeless people during the evening, the San Francisco Examiner reported on Friday, November 13.

A unanimous vote by the Local Homeless Coordinating Board will let the city proceed with counting the number of homeless people at night, which occurs every two years. The count will take place on Friday, January 29, 2021.  This is the first time that the count will be conducted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote comes after it was reported in August that a city report from the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office revealed that the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing suffered a staff shortage and is unprepared to take on the situation.

The vote occurred after San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on November 9 that more than 2,000 homeless people, who were staying in hotels, would be taken to “stable housing solutions,” as stated in the press release from the Mayor’s Office.

In San Francisco, the homelessness count occurs from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. As a result of COVID-19, the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing wanted to change the counting hours between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Those who are against the proposal argue that it will not accurately count everyone and will give misleading information. In a memo, the SF HSH noted counting during the early morning hours will be “easier to distinguish those who are experiencing homelessness.”

The SF HSH also mentioned it will be difficult to get more volunteers, but it will also be harder to find people who are sleeping and the time change “could affect unsheltered count numbers.”

The San Francisco HSH recommends to continue counting from sunset to sunrise in order to “avoid double counting between the street count and sheltered count.”

In 2019, the city of San Francisco reported more than 8,000 homeless people, a 17 percent jump from 2017.  According to the Continuums of Care (CoC) to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), California had more than 150,000 homeless people as of January 2019.