Today, Snohomish County announced the release of the 2018 preliminary Point-in-Time (PIT) Count regarding unsheltered people.
A full report, also including the sheltered count, will be released later this year. The annual PIT count conducted by over 250 volunteers and county staff on Jan. 23, surveyed 378 persons in 331 households who were unsheltered at the time of the count. This represented a 27 percent decrease over the number of unsheltered individuals in the 2017 count.
While the PIT count fluctuates from year to year, the overall trend since 2013 is upward with an increase of 9.9 percent.
This year’s count of unsheltered individuals showed a decrease in chronically homeless individuals from 313 in the 2017 count to 270 in 2018. Chronically homeless individuals make up a substantial percentage of those unsheltered, representing 71.4 percent of the unsheltered homeless count.
Chronically homeless individuals are individuals with a disability who have been homeless continuously for at least 12 months or who on at least four separate occasions had a combined length of time in homelessness of at least 12 months over the last three years. It also showed a high number of individuals who had two or three disabling conditions, including mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders and/or chronic medical conditions, pointing to the need of more intensive and individualized evidence-based services.
“We are encouraged that our efforts to eliminate homelessness seem to be making progress in one critical area, but there is still much work to do,” Dave Somers, a Snohomish County executive, said in a press release. “With our housing prices booming, some are left out and end up on our streets and in camps. To relieve human suffering, we are finding innovative ways to help our fellow residents find a place to call home and get the services they need. I applaud all of those who have selflessly worked to stem the tide of homelessness and give our neighbors hope.”
“We will continue to implement proven strategies to help those suffering from homelessness,” council chair Stephanie Wright said. “When our neighbors need help, we must do what we can to assist them.”
The annual count is a key measure used to inform priorities for federal, state and local funding and helps gauge progress toward ending homelessness for vulnerable individuals and families. The analysis and overall trends are utilized by the Snohomish County Partnership to End Homelessness to address needs and track progress toward goals to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness.
“The Point in Time results for 2018 show a small but significant decrease in the number of chronically homeless individuals living without shelter,” Human Services director Mary Jane Brell-Vujovic said in a press release. “However, chronically homeless individuals comprise a growing percentage of Snohomish County residents who are unsheltered. This is of great concern to our community. We know that people become homeless due to a variety of circumstances. Regardless of cause, we must work to reduce human suffering and provide a path forward for men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in Snohomish County. The county, the Partnership to End Homelessness, and our network of dedicated partner agencies have implemented numerous evidence-based strategies that are increasing the number of individuals who obtain permanent housing through our system. We are making progress toward our shared aim of reducing, and ultimately ending, homelessness in our community.”
Outreach workers and navigators were able to assist a number of people during the count to begin accessing needed services, shelter and/or housing. County staff wish to thank all the volunteers and agency staff who made the count possible.