The latest annual survey of San Antonio’s homelessness population found an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness but a decrease in the amount of unsheltered homeless individuals.

Representatives of South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless, a local nonprofit that works with other organizations assisting homeless individuals, gathered May 17 to unveil results of the 2023 State of Homelessness in San Antonio & Bexar County report.

Representatives of SARAH said the report contains results and data from this year's point-in-time count, a yearly census of people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness in the region.

According to the count and report, the overall total of people experiencing homelessness rose by 5.3% from 2022, but unsheltered homelessness dropped by 15.6%.

SARAH representatives said unsheltered individuals are living or sleeping outdoors or in an abandoned building, whereas sheltered homeless are living or sleeping in an emergency shelter, safe haven or transitional housing.

The 2023 count shows a total of 3,155 people experiencing homelessness in Bexar County in January, when the survey took place, SARAH officials said.

SARAH Executive Director Katie Vela said the reduction in unsheltered homelessness reflects the work that SARAH and its partner organizations are doing with expanding street outreach, discussing housing needs and exploring systemic issues related to homelessness. Volunteers who take part in the count offer basic immediate services to homeless individuals whom they meet, including providing them with a bag of apparel, water, snacks and toiletries.

According to the report, data collected during the 2023 count in January also shows the percentage of families staying in shelters has gone up by 60% since 2021.

Vela said as time goes on after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, eviction prevention programs that were put in place in 2020 are no longer potent in keeping at-risk people in their homes.

“If we can find a way as a community to make a sustainable program, we think we can see these numbers go down again,” Vela said in a statement.

SARAH representatives said the count and other data gathered for the local homelessness report is meant to empower community partners charged with helping homeless individuals and families.

However, SARAH officials added, the collected data must be carefully interpreted by homelessness relief groups and local government agencies when it comes to developing programs and initiatives to aid the homeless.

“There are a few factors to keep in mind as we take these insights and act upon them,” the report states.