Solid Ground staff and volunteers joined 1,100 other volunteers in the 2016 One Night Count of Homeless People in King County, which tragically found 4,505 men women and children without shelter during the three-hour street count, a 19% increase compared to last year.
Here’s the text of the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness’ media release:
The 36th annual One Night Count of homeless people in King County took place in the early hours of Friday, January 29, 2016. The Coalition organized more than 1,100 volunteers who fanned out across the county to count the number of men, women and children who were homeless and sleeping outdoors without shelter between 2-5am. They counted people trying to survive in cars and tents, riding late night buses, or curled up in blankets under bridges or in doorways. That same night, staff at agencies that operate shelters and transitional housing programs recorded select information about the people staying in their programs. Staff at the Homeless Housing Program of King County’s Community Services Division compile these data.
FINDINGS OF THE 2016 ONE NIGHT COUNT – UNSHELTERED COUNT
At least 4,505 men, women, and children were without shelter during the three-hour street count. This number is an increase of 19% over those found without shelter last year. This number is always assumed to be an undercount, because we do not count everywhere, and because many people take great care not to be visible.
Hundreds of volunteers helping with the count found people sleeping in doorways, beneath overpasses, in their vehicles, in alleys, or walking around in the communities of Auburn, Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Kenmore, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, Shoreline, Skyway, Vashon Island, White Center and Woodinville.
The reasons people are without shelter vary. Lack of affordable housing, poverty, unemployment, untreated mental illness or addiction, and domestic violence all contribute to homelessness.
Solid Ground’s team counts in north Seattle. Even in our little enclave of relative neighborhood privilege, more than 20 people were counted. We saw people walking the streets with their possessions, rolled in blankets in garages, and revving engines to stay warm in vehicles.
“The results of the One Night Count align with the experience of our housing advocates and case managers,” said Solid Ground’s Gordon McHenry, Jr., President & CEO. “There is significant pain and trauma in our community, and these results underscore the need for more aggressive and sustained coordinated action by governments, philanthropists and community-based organizations to respond to this worsening crisis.”
“The number of unsheltered people who were seen by our volunteer counters went up most dramatically in cities in South King County. Seattle also saw an increase, despite having a number of count areas closed off due to the recent shooting in a well-known greenbelt area along I-5,” wrote Coalition Executive Director Alison Eisinger in a morning email to volunteers. “”If these results shock, sadden and anger you, please speak up and take action with us. Join the Coalition to raise affordable housing and homelessness up as the urgent issues of our time.”
Upcoming advocacy opportunities
- In Olympia on Tuesday, February 2 for Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day
- In Ballard or Kent for Homelessness Advocacy 101: Beyond the One Night Count
- On Saturday, January 30 for Housing is a Human Right, a lecture by artist Martha Rosler, and conversation with community organizer Mary Flowers, Rosler, and Alison Eisenger at the Seattle Public Library.