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Washington state homelessness numbers decline by 3.1 percent

A homeless encampment on public and private property near NW 46th Street in Seattle. (City of Seattle)

The number of homeless people counted across Washington state went down by 3.1 percent, a total of 683 people.

The statewide count shows that while some counties saw a decrease in homeless numbers, others saw increases.

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King County homeless count 2019

According to the final results of the 2019 point-in-time count across the state, added up by the Washington State Department of Commerce, there were 21,621 people experiencing homelessness — a 3.1 percent decrease from the previous year.

The final Washington count indicates:

  • 339 more people were sheltered than the previous year. This includes temporary shelters, transitional housing, hotels/motels, and government or charitable programs.
  • Unsheltered people went down by 9.6 percent — a total of 1,022. Unsheltered includes people living in parks, cars, abandoned buildings, on the street, or in campgrounds.
  • 21 out of 39 Washington counties had an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.
  • Snohomish County saw the largest increase in homelessness, with 258 more people counted in 2019 than the previous year.
  • King County had a decrease of 913 people counted.
  • An estimated 29,800 people were housed during the federal fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 – Sept. 30, 2018).

The Washington State Department of Commerce further notes that “…across the state, households with the lowest incomes, and fixed incomes in particular, are not keeping pace with rent increases. National research shows that rent increases are associated with corresponding increases in homelessness.”

“Availability of enough affordable, safe and appropriate housing strengthens communities and supports economic vitality,” said Commerce Director Dr. Lisa Brown.

“Homelessness is a statewide challenge, not just an urban problem, and the solutions must be as multifaceted as the causes,” she said.

Brown further says that data on the homelessness crisis continues to get better.

“In the near future we will be able to see trends, evaluate outcomes and analyze costs more effectively.”

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