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Fewer homeless outside in East King County

A count by the Seattle/King County Coalition for the Homeless (SKCCH) found that the number of people counted outside in King County is down by 11 percent compared to last year’s count. Volunteer teams working through the early morning hours of Jan. 28 counted 2,442 people living on the streets of King County. The people were of every age, race and gender. Some were huddled in doorways, some sleeping in cars, camped in parking lots, or sheltered in makeshift campsites.

The One Night Count of People Who Are Homeless is conducted each January to produce a snapshot of the total number of unsheltered individuals on the streets of King County. Beginning at 2 a.m., Friday morning, 886 volunteers in 137 teams counted the people sleeping outdoors in King County. The volunteers were organized through 10 area headquarters. Counters returned to historical and new count areas in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, Shoreline, Kenmore, Bothell, Seattle, White Center, Federal Way, Kent, Renton and Auburn. The count also collected information from hospitals and from Metro night owl buses operating throughout the county. The numbers represent the minimum number of unsheltered people on this single night.

Some factors that may have contributed to fewer people being counted this year include the fact that winter shelters were open in downtown Seattle and Redmond, filled with 149 people who would otherwise have been outside overnight. This year the 194 bus, a route long described as a “rolling shelter,” was replaced by light rail service to SeaTac airport. And, in Auburn, Renton and Kent, high water flooded out several areas that are usually counted.

Also helping is the addition of over 3,600 new housing units for homeless individuals and families. Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) helped pay for these and for local rental assistance and other programs designed to help prevent homelessness.

The number does not include the estimated 6,000 people staying in emergency shelter and transitional housing overnight. The coalition is also tracking the number of families turned away from shelters because they were full.

For more, go to The Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH), www.homelessinfo.org.

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