The annual One Night Count of the Homeless, held Thursday night into Friday morning, found 3,772 people in King County without shelter, a 21 percent increase over 2014. The count confirms what many advocates say is a continuing crisis in homelessness in the region despite local governments spending millions on the problem.
“We know that there are good and effective programs that have helped and housed many people. Yet we have not matched capacity with the need,” said Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.
Volunteers in the the One Night Count found homeless people sleeping in doorways, in cars and campers, and beneath overpasses, as well as walking around. More than 100 were counted on night-owl buses.
Much of the increase was in Seattle, but homeless people were found across King County, said Mark Putnam, director of the Committee to End Homelessness. Putnam pointed to the Legislature’s failure last year to fund the Housing Trust Fund, which matches local jurisdictions’ investments in affordable housing, as well what he said was the state’s continuing poor record in funding mental-health treatment.
“If we continue to not invest in affordable housing and a safety net of human services, we are basically deciding that homelessness is OK,” Putnam said.