The 2018 Count Us In report found 12,112 people experiencing homelessness across the region on January 26, 2018, including 5,792 people sheltered in emergency shelters, safe havens and transitional housing and 6,320 people on the streets, in vehicles or staying in tents or encampments (both sanctioned and unsanctioned). The count includes a 15 percent increase in unsheltered people and a four percent increase overall, the smallest increases in homelessness in the region in the past four years.
The biggest improvement was a 31 percent reduction in veteran homelessness, the result of increased investments and strong collaboration across federal, state, county and local governments and local non-profit agencies. This coordination includes weekly conferencing among the partners utilizing a by-name list to connect each veteran to appropriate services and housing to achieve and maintain stability. Local housing authorities and local landlords are also partners in this effort.
Similar collaboration, including support from local business and philanthropy and successful prevention and diversion programs helped to reduce homelessness among minors (under age 18) by 22 percent and family homelessness by 7 percent.
“Count Us In was a community effort and reflects the manner in which we must address this growing crisis,” said Kira Zylstra, Acting Director of All Home. “Though the overall count increased, the pace is slowing and there is tremendous progress in reducing veteran homelessness. Now is the time to double down on our efforts to ensure the same progress for the 12,112 people without housing today and the thousands more who experience homeless over the course of the year.”
The report showed several changes among the unsheltered population, including a 14 percent reduction in people staying in tents and a 46 percent increase in people sleeping in vehicles. The largest increases in homelessness were among single adults. Nearly all individuals experiencing homelessness – 98 percent – said they would immediately move to housing if it were available, underscoring the urgent need to address the lack of affordable housing countywide.
“In just four years, we more than doubled the number of people who moved from tents, shelters, and vehicles into stable housing, yet the pace of people falling into homelessness continues to overload our services and resources,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “As a region, we must redouble our efforts to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place, and create the necessary housing to ensure that people of all incomes have a safe and secure place to call home.”
"We must continue to take urgent action on the homelessness crisis with holistic, regional solutions. The reduction in veterans who are experiencing homelessness shows we can have an impact with focused strategies. But there is much work to be done, especially to address the root causes of homelessness," said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. "I am committed to getting more people off the streets and into safer spaces while investing in prevention, behavioral health and affordable housing. The data shows that we can make real progress when we tackle this complex issue together and collaborate on all fronts: with more data-driven, targeted investments in enhanced shelters, tiny homes, critical services, prevention programs, and affordable housing."