Jul 17, 2023 - News

San Diego county supervisor bid spotlights ex-mayor's homeless record

Kevin Faulconer walks near a tent

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer walks past a tent in Macarthur Park in Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2021 when he was running for governor. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

When former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced his county supervisor bid last week, he suggested the region was better off with his approach to homelessness.

What he's saying: "As mayor of San Diego I delivered real results on some of the toughest issues facing San Diego and made significant progress in reducing homelessness, even bucking the statewide trend," he wrote.

Why it matters: Faulconer is framing his challenge to Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer for the county's third district seat in 2024 around homelessness and affordable housing because those issues consistently rank as voters' top concerns ahead of the March 2024 primary.

Reality check: Faulconer claimed a meaningful decrease in San Diego homelessness during his time as mayor.

Between the lines: Methodological changes in the annual homeless count explain some of the decrease.

Meanwhile, the citywide decline during his tenure might not have registered with residents because highly visible downtown homelessness didn't follow the same path.

  • Downtown homelessness jumped from a monthly average of 606 people in 2014 when he took office to a monthly average of 809 people in 2019, before COVID-19.
  • It declined to an average of 656 people during the pandemic, his last year in office, before surging again the next year.

The bottom line: Homelessness in San Diego worsened under Faulconer before it got better, but fell 6% during his term, while homelessness in California during that time increased 41%.

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