Homelessness may be trending down after seven years

A press release from the annual count showed a reduction in people living without a home.

A preliminary release from the 2019 point in time homelessness count shows the number of people experiencing homelessness in King County has dropped for the first time since 2012.

The press release was issued by All Home, Seattle and the county following a point in time count this January. The count found there were 11,199 people who were homeless across the county, with 5,971 living in shelters and 5,228 people unsheltered. That’s an 8-percent overall decrease from 2018 and a 17-percent decrease among unsheltered people. The full report will be complete by the end of the month and will include geographic data and analysis.

Although the counts generally don’t find every person experiencing homelessness it does provide useful data for lawmakers, researchers and governments. The count found there was a decrease across all groups of homelessness, including families which saw a 7-percent reduction, veterans with a 10-percent drop and unaccompanied youth and young adults for a 28-percent decrease.

“We know that we look to this to tell trends over time because it’s certainly an estimate,” said Kira Zylstra, acting director of All Home.

The press release did not mention homelessness rates for other demographics including Native Americans or African Americans, groups which have become homeless at disproportionate rates. Native Americans were found to make up less than 1 percent of King County’s population but accounted for nearly 6 percent of its homeless population, a report from the Seattle Times found in 2018. Further data will be included in the full report due by the end of May.

At the same time as those living unsheltered decreased, the number of people in shelters went up, which the press release credited to people getting connected to services and more than 530 shelter beds being created in 2018. Over the past three years there were nearly 18,000 people who found housing, but the rate at which people are becoming homeless outpaces existing housing resources, the report said.

Zylstra said organizations in the county have been focusing on a housing first approach and including services along with that. And while the point in time count found fewer people experiencing homelessness, she said that may not correlate to perceptions people have in the area.

“This is not the felt reality of our community, the visibility of homelessness and the felt reality of the crisis is still very prominent,” Zylstra said.

The 2018 report found there were 12,112 people experiencing homelessness in the county and 11,643 in 2017. While there were fewer people experiencing homelessness in the 2019 count, it was still higher than the 10,688 counted in 2016.

Pierce County also saw a reduction in homelessness in 2019, with a decrease of 14 percent from 1,628 in 2018 to 1,486 this January. Snohomish County has not released information from its 2019 count.

More in News

Report: Only one use of excessive force upheld by Sheriff’s investigations in 2018

The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight has released its annual 2018 report.

Parts of Mercer Island left without power after car collides with pole

A 41-year-old Seattle woman was allegedly intoxicated when the accident happened.

The map shows the location of one confirmed cougar sighting and four potential sightings, as reported during the Aug. 20 City Council meeting. Image by Google Maps
Fish and Wildlife make the cougar case at city council

Officials believe courgar has been “gone for some time.”

Mercer Island rotarians Beth Baska, Becca Palm, Soonok Kwak, Carol Friends, Steve DeVos and Brent Jordan standing with one of the island’s 20 peace poles. Picture by Tracy Drinkwater
Mercer Island Walk For Peace

Rotary Club takes walkers on a journey from peace pole to peace pole Sept. 21

Mercer Island resident Meredythe Glass poses with memorabilia from “The Wizard of Oz.” Glass was an extra in the film, and was be the guest of honor at a party at her retirement community celebrating Hollywood on Feb. 22. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
“Wizard of Oz” cast member dies at 98

Meredythe Glass was one of the last surviving cast members of “The Wizard of Oz.” She died on Saturday at age 98.

Groveland Beach vandalized | Police Blotter

Police blotter for July 24 - Aug. 3.

Photo courtesy of Leah Llamas
                                IMS will drive a white van around the Island capturing photo and video footage of pavements and road signage.
The City will conduct a field survey of road conditions on the Island

Every three years, the city of Mercer Island gathers data on pavement… Continue reading

Courtesy of Elisha Deo. Vanna Nguyen and James Le, pictured, have been identified as the missing persons whose boat was found Sep. 2 near Mercer Island.
Mercer Island police, U.S. Coast Guard are searching for missing boaters

Man and woman were determined missing after police found their boat near Mercer Island.

Most Read