Nearly 13 percent of homeless surveyed in Seattle are from outside state
By and large, the number of homeless people surveyed recently in Seattle were either living in the city or King County when they became homeless. Of the 1,050 people who were surveyed, however, more are from out of state than those from Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties combined.
A city-funded survey found that 12.8 percent of people in the survey are from out of state. A total of 11.2 percent come from the aforementioned counties.
A vague category of “another county in WA” made up 3.8 percent of the people surveyed.
And 2.1 percent of the 1,050 people are from outside of the country.
Those numbers aren’t necessarily surprising when you factor in the fact that Washington homeless numbers rose by 7.3 percent in 2016 over 2015.
A report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found there were about 1,400 more people sleeping outside and in shelters last year.
The increase is the second-largest in the country, falling only behind California, the Associated Press reports. In all, there were 20,827 homeless people counted in Washington.
While Washington’s homeless numbers rose, the number of homeless people declined in 37 states between 2015 and 2016, according to the report.
Homelessness has grown in the Seattle-King County area while it has dropped in Everett-Snohomish County, Tacoma-Pierce County, Spokane, Yakima, Vancouver-Clark County and the rest of Washington.
The results of the study were released Friday morning.
The city paid surveyors to speak to people living in sanctioned and unsanctioned encampments, RVs and cars, and to hold focus groups targeting specific demographics, The Seattle Times reports.
The city paid a firm $100,000 for the study, which will help direct future funding for homeless programs.
People who responded to the survey were offered $5 gift cards to McDonald’s, which were found to be a “great incentive.”
The study also found about 35 percent say they moved here because of friends or family. And about the same amount came for a job. Ten percent say they moved here because of legal pot.
Just over 40 percent of the homeless people surveyed had some sort of job.
The city found 20 percent of people said that housing affordability as the reason they were on the streets.
During his annual State of the City address in February, Murray said he wants to increase property taxes in 2017 to generate $55 million to help address the city’s homeless crisis. A funding package was expected within a few weeks of the announcement.
“For 3,000 people living unsheltered, our streets have become a default, inadequate and dangerous place to live,” Murray said.
Though the city budgeted $108 million for homelessness services combined over the last two years, Murray said it has not been enough.
“Not enough for those who have been victims of crimes, like the young teenage girls who have been trapped in encampments and trafficked for sex. Not enough for the three toddlers found without parents under the Spokane Street Viaduct. We must do more to address the dangers faced by those living in unauthorized encampments.”
In addition to his proposed property tax, Murray activated the Emergency Operations Center to respond to the homeless crisis.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed reported spending the prior night outdoors. Of those, 30 percent being in an authorized encampment, 22 percent in a park, 9 percent in a vehicle, and 8 percent in a camper, RV, or van. Another 34 percent said they spend the night on a sidewalk or public right of way.
Forty-four percent of the 1,050 surveyed were experiencing homelessness for the first time. Half said they had been homeless for a year or more.
On the low end, 2.4 percent said they had been homeless for seven days or less.
Leading cause of homelessness
Just over 25 percent say the reason they are homeless is because of job loss. Another 12.9 percent blame alcohol or drug use. Just over 11 percent blame rent increase.