How You Can Help Someone Experiencing Homelessness

We’ve all seen the increase in people experiencing homelessness around San Diego County. In fact, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless announced a 5  percent increase over the past year, which includes a 27 percent increase in Downtown alone. 

While not all people who experience homelessness have mental health conditions, it is estimated that 39 percent of the 5,621 unsheltered homeless individuals in San Diego County struggle with mental illness.

For some people, mental health or substance use conditions can contribute to homelessness; because of challenges in managing their symptoms, difficulty with keeping a job, disrupted relationships, or keeping up with the tasks necessary to live independently. But for many others, mental health conditions may be the result of the stress that comes from being homeless.

San Diego County resident Mercedes used to be one of these people. Mercedes was homeless and living in her car when she was diagnosed with severe depression. Thanks to the support of local resources, she is now thriving and encouraging others to reach out, reminding us all that “mental illness is no reason to be alone.”

  • Homeless people in your neighborhood can use your help in many ways. What can you do?
  • Treat people experiencing homelessness with human kindness, smile and greet them with the courtesy you would extend to a neighbor or coworker.
  • Volunteer or make a contribution to a local organization that serves people experiencing homelessness.
  • Make a donation of clothing or food to a shelter in your neighborhood. Think about unexpected items too, like toys for kids or hygiene products for women.
  • Offer information about resources in our community: for example, anyone needing immediate housing help can call 2-1-1 for assistance.
  • Share the facts about homelessness and mental health and encourage open, honest conversations in your home and community.

We can all help and do our part by reaching out and getting involved. To find out more, visit or