Seattle survey: Over half of homeless admit to using drugs, alcohol

Mar 3, 2017, 5:27 PM | Updated: Mar 5, 2017, 3:19 pm
(Seattle Police Department, file photo)
(Seattle Police Department, file photo)

In Seattle’s homeless survey, released on Friday, over half of the respondents said they use drugs or alcohol.

In November 2016, 1,050 people answered as follows:

No drug use: 45.3%

Alcohol: 29.4%

Methamphetamine: 17.2%

Heroin: 12.2%

Crack: 5.5%

Other drug (which includes marijuana): 20.6%

Granted, 1,050 people surveyed is only a quarter of the people who are homeless in the county. The 2016 One Night Count (ONC) found that 4,505 people were living outside and unsheltered in King County. In reality, the percentage of addicts or alcoholics could be higher or lower.

Maybe even more depressing is the perception of services Seattle provides.

Related: Nearly 13 percent of homeless surveyed are from outside state

According to the survey, respondents said they had difficulty accessing available services (not just for addiction) due to “lack of support navigating the resources and referral system.” They said that they often “had to call repeatedly to get someone on the phone or felt they could not follow up with services because they were only offered during certain times, such as regular business hours.”

And hopefully you don’t need help the week of Christmas or on President’s Day.

“You have to go to this lady who has to then evaluate you and then go to that lady who has to then recommend you. It’s like they eat up more of your time just keeping themselves employed duplicating the same process,” one participant said.

They also noted that they generally learn of services and programs through word of mouth rather than outreach programs.

Second only to job loss, respondents said the “primary event or condition that led to respondents’ current episode of homelessness” was alcohol or drug use at 13%.

Only 11% said they could not afford rent increase, which led them to be homeless, but you wouldn’t expect such a low number given the attention the mayor and council give to affordable housing initiatives.

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Seattle survey: Over half of homeless admit to using drugs, alcohol