The number of unsheltered homeless people in Berkeley dropped by nearly half in the two years between the biennial point-in-time homeless censuses in 2022 and 2024, according to a preliminary report.

We should be hearing about the San Francisco point-in-time count of the homeless for 2024 any day now, with a preliminary report on numbers due to be released ahead of the full report. But Berkeley has its preliminary numbers as of today, and as Berkeleyside reports, they appear fairly encouraging.

The overall number of homeless people in the city of Berkeley, as of January, fell 20% compared to January 2022. And the number of unsheltered homeless — those living in tents, parks, cars, or abandoned buildings — fell even more dramatically, by 45% in the same two-year period.

There were 803 people counted as unsheltered homeless in 2022, and 445 people counted this past January in Berkeley.

Meanwhile, there were a total of 844 homeless individuals counted for 2024, including those in shelters, which was down from 1,057 in 2022.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín touted the numbers as a sign of the city's success in addressing homelessness, saying in a statement, "Having personally experienced housing insecurity, I’m deeply proud of how this community has come together to respond to this crisis, but I want to be very clear that our work is not done."

In San Francisco, city leaders are no doubt hoping for similarly encouraging numbers. And just last week, Mayor London Breed — who may have already been privy to the preliminary count in SF — was celebrating that the number of tents on city streets was at a five-year low.

The point-in-time count was conducted in SF one night in January, and while many advocates for the homeless say that it is always an undercount — it fails to capture those who are temporarily housed with friends and family, for instance — it is part of a federally mandated effort to get year-to-year comparisons.

The unhoused are often mobile, so the larger Bay Area picture may be more complex — and while Berkeley may have seen a significant drop in its numbers, next door in Oakland the story is less encouraging.

The preliminary count for Oakland shows an overall 9% uptick in the number of homeless — we may get more information on Oakland's numbers soon. As Berkeleyside notes, on the positive side, the rate of growth in homelessness is slowing in Oakland after seeing a dramatic uptick in 2022.

The overall count of homeless individuals for Alameda County at large fell by 3%, according to the preliminary data.

Previously: Mayor Breed Touts New Numbers Saying SF Tents and Encampments at a Five-Year Low

Top image: Tents in People's Park ca. 2021. Photo by Al83tito/via Planetizen