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Snohomish County’s homeless count shows decrease in numbers

Snohomish County - Contributed art
Snohomish County
— image credit: Contributed art

For this year’s count, approximately 150 volunteers spent the day and early evening gathering information on Snohomish County’s homeless population. This year’s total – still incomplete – shows 1,960 individuals in 1,117 households without a permanent place to live. This compares to last year’s final count of 2,387 individuals in 1,410 households. Of the individuals counted this year, an estimated 722 were homeless children under the age of 18.

County staff and members of the Homeless Policy Task Force will spend the next month closely studying and verifying data from the Point in Time count, while also examining reasons why the unsheltered count decreased.

“While any decrease in homelessness numbers is good news for our community, there are still about 2,000 people in our community who need permanent housing solutions,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “We will continue to look for new ways to improve housing options for all people who live in Snohomish County.”

Homeless numbers for 2013 can be divided into three categories:  those sheltered in emergency shelter or transitional housing, those who are unsheltered and on the streets, and those who are precariously housed (often referred to as “doubled up temporarily” or “couch surfing”).

Those sheltered for the night of the count totaled 1,362 individuals in 671 households. This compared to 1,347 individuals in 667 households for the 2012 count. There were 298 individuals in 254 households surveyed who did not have shelter. This compares to 717 individuals in 542 households for the 2012 count. Finally, an additional 300 individuals in 192 households were precariously housed. This compares to 323 individuals in 201 households for the 2012 count.

“The important next step is looking at how different populations are affected by homelessness – including single mothers with children, those with mental-health and chemical-dependency issues, as well as veterans – and finding how we can help them,” said Ken Stark, Snohomish County’s Human Services Director.

The Point in Time count is a state and federal requirement. The results help ensure that vital federal and state funding continues to come into the community to fight homelessness. Data from the annual count also is used to understand how widespread homelessness is in Snohomish County and who is most affected.

 

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