2016 Press Release

One Night Count reveals 4,505 people without shelter in King County
A record number of people are homeless outside across the county, with increases in nearly every participating jurisdiction 

January 29, 2016 

The 2016 One Night Count showed dramatic county-wide increases in how many people lack basic shelter in King County. This is a 19% percent increase from last year. Count numbers went up most dramatically in cities in South King County. Seattle also saw an increase, despite having a number of count areas closed off due to the recent shooting in a well-known greenbelt area along I-5. A summary table of results is available on the Coalition’s web site.

The annual Count of people without shelter is organized by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, an independent coalition working for safety, housing, justice, and to end homelessness. The Coalition on Homelessness is pleased to partner on the Count with All Home, the coalition of local government, nonprofits, and advocates working in alignment to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time in King County.

“This is surely what an emergency looks like,” said Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness. “One group of volunteers returned this morning and described seeing a couple with their three-month-old baby living in a tent. Others reported seeing a group of young people in sleeping bags, and a family with young children in an RV. One team spoke with a man in wheelchair who described having been homeless for five years. A law student noted that his team saw a memorial to Stacy Fisher, a homeless woman who was murdered under the Magnolia Bridge last year. We’re grateful for the significant attention and increased resources Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine have put toward addressing recent rapid increases in homelessness. It is clear that this crisis affects our whole region and demands an unprecedented response.”

One Night Count data provide information about the scope of the need to elected officials and planners as they make investments to combat homelessness. The Count also serves as a community call to action, and kicks off a full year of education and action activities.

Mark Putnam, director of All Home, a broad coalition working to end homelessness in King County, said, “Together, we can end homeless. It will require smart investments not only in permanent housing, but also employment, mental health, and substance abuse treatment programs. The Count helps us see the scope of the problem. We hope this galvanizes all of us to respond this man-made emergency.” All Home staff have prepared an infographic to illustrate additional information about the work to end homelessness in King County: http://allhomekc.org/news/

Following recommendations from the Seattle Police department in the wake of Tuesday night’s shooting in a greenbelt near I-5 in Seattle, organizers adjusted six count areas to exclude places under the freeway and in adjacent greenbelts where teams usually count. It is impossible to know how the total might have been different had it been feasible to count in those areas, which have typically included many people.

For more information about the One Night Count, visit www.homelessinfo.org. The preliminary numbers released this morning do not include the thousands of people who are in overnight shelters or staying in transitional housing programs. Combined totals will be released by King County in early spring.

In 2015, volunteers found 3,772 people living outside, an increase of 21% in unsheltered homelessness over the previous year. The total 2015 One Night Count, including people in overnight shelters and transitional housing programs, was 10,047.

Over 1,000 volunteers participated in the count this year, which was conducted between the hours of 2 and 5 am, fanning out from twelve locations throughout King County to count people in select areas of Auburn, Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kenmore, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Skyway, Tukwila, Vashon Island, White Center, Woodinville, and parts of unincorporated King County. The Count is made possible through the efforts of the Coalition’s 60+ member organizations, strong collaboration with local governments, and partnership and support of All Home. The Coalition invites all concerned community members to register for Beyond the One Night Count: Homeless Advocacy 101. These free workshops will take place in Ballard (Feb. 24) and Kent (Feb. 27). Participants will learn how to speak up for housing, tenant protections, and other important policy proposals in Olympia.

Alison Eisinger, 206.204.8355, alison[at]homelessinfo[dot]org
Sara Veltkamp, 616.238.5457, sara[at]homelessinfo[dot]org