New One-Night Count Numbers Show 19 Percent Increase in Unsheltered Homelessness Across King County

Comments

1
How do we know there counts are accurate?
2
@1: If the count is inaccurate, then it would most likely be an under count.
3
thanks to the volunteers. it's great to make this concrete with objective numbers.

@1: they tagged each homeless person so they could make sure they weren't double-counted.
4
We know the counts are not accurate.

Because of a recent shooting in an encampment near I-5 in Sodo known as "The Jungle," Seattle Police recommended that organizers not count in places under the freeway and in nearby greenbelts, according to organizers. Because areas under freeways are typically home to "many people," said the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness in a statement, "it is impossible to know how the total might have been different had it been feasible to count in those areas."

If you aren't going to go through the areas where a large portion of the homeless live what is the point? This significantly reduces the utility of the count in comparing year over year trends and undermines the 'state of emergency' claims that we need people to take seriously.
5
Homelessness is down across the country, but not here. Seattle and its homeless services providers refuse to adopt the best evidence-based practices promulgated by the United States Interagency on Homelessness. We spend the third most on homelessness of any City in the U.S. The Mayor needs to continue to insist on reform of City contracts with homeless service providers that make the contracts performance based to conform to best practices. The Council needs to get on board and stop enabling such poor service delivery that leaves the homeless unsheltered.
6
@3. It will be increasingly and tragically with with toe tags if Seattle doesn't reform how it funds homeless services.
7
@5: So you're saying we should emulate Salt Lake City?
8
The hallmark of any progressive utopia: street drunks and junkies as far as the eye can see.
9
@7: again with the SLC "example". the program's results are vastly overhyped.

@5: I'm curious to hear a concrete example of what you're describing. and BTW, this is King County wide, so it's not all on the City.
10
@7, I am saying we should embrace the evidence-based practices being promulgated by The Interagency Council on Homelessness that are getting results, where they are being adopted by states and localities.
11
@5,

I think your premise is straight up bullshit - show us a real link that shows homelessness is down across the country.

LA, NYC, SF, Seattle, and Honolulu (for a start) are all experiencing increases in homeless - not decreases.
12
@5 Hold the city accountable for budgets and services! My God...whatever next?

You are spot on in this matter. We have the some of the highest spending on homeless, with little accountability on the services or results. It is disgraceful.

The most recent scandal of just plopping homeless on unused city property with no "end game" or solution is just another flagrant example.

Maybe the Mayor should hold another new conference, wring his hands, commission another study and say "Something Must Be Done!".

Oh...right I guess he did that earlier this week.
13
@11. See stats provided by US Interagency Council on Homelessness at about the 2 minute mark of the story. http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/se…
.
14
@10, where will the money come from to institute these measures, which consists of housing people and then providing services once they're housed? Are you advocating in Olympia and DC, in addition to Seattle and King County, for more money for housing? Housing First indeed is the best way to solve homelessness but it requires funds.
15
@10: like I said, i'm trying to understand what you're saying in a concrete way. Seattle isn't using those recommendations? or is it that the contracts they have with providers are not being executed competently? for instance?

you can't provide immediate access when there's no room at the inn, or the person refuses shelter for x and y reasons.
16
@13,

It was a 2% decline nationwide between 2013 and 2014, which was a continuation of a downward trend since the highest number was experienced at the height of the recession in 2007 (and since local jurisdictions are under considerable pressure to give good numbers to HUD, I would be surprised if the 33 states that managed to reduce their numbers didn't do so by pushing homeless people off onto other states - you know, like how Vegas ships their homeless population to LA?).

I don't think beating up on service providers with buzzwords like "evidence based data driven decision making" is gonna solve the problem at all, actually.
17
I am not beating up on them, just pointing out, as the Mayor has, that Seattle, and the service providers it funds, have not adopted the performance-based practices and metrics and best practices being promulgated by the US Interagency Commission on Homelessness that are being adopted and used with success elsewhere. I would also suggest that the biggest losers, are the folks in Seattle who are still homeless because Seattle and its service providers have not.
18
@13: from the article you linked (not the video): "Mayor Murray and advocates around King County have said their policies and efforts have long been in line with the USICH."

I'm not saying they are or aren't, but you're saying they aren't. what magic bullet aren't they using?

please don't say "promulgate" again.
19
We have spent tens of millions of dollars on bike lanes. We still spend more on arts (library, Seattle center, and arts grants) than we do on human services. How are we to believe that we need some big tax increase to start spending more on our homeless problem. Before we spend we should also look at the fact that our homeless problem got worse as the national average saw decline. As for the cost of rent going up look at the property taxes increasing nearly 6% last year. That would explain a lot of the rent increase.
20
I really appreciate the organizers and volunteers who worked on this year's count. The point made by @2 is a good one. People still living in the Jungle weren't counted, and only 27 people were counted sleeping in Seattle's parks, which seems like an inconceivably low number. Nonetheless, homelessness in King County was shown to have risen almost as much this year as last year which is alarming and downright sad.
21
@10 makes a good point. The legislature should by all means be doing more to address homelessness, which is growing statewide. Instead it's got its panties all in a bunch over trans women using women's restrooms, doing as much as possible to freeze the minimum wage and lock people in poverty lockdown everywhere beyond Seattle and SeaTac and drag their feet as much as possible on adequately funding public schools. Why is this happening? Because the GOP runs the entire state except for blue islands in the Seattle metro area, Jefferson and Whatcom Counties and Spokane. It is almost as if vast expanses of our state enjoy poverty.
22
Is there any research done on where the homeless typically come from? In other words, did they become homeless in the city of Seattle, or did they come here from other areas to this city in particular? I've always been very curious about that, but unsure if any research has been done.
23
@22: me too. I've certainly met homeless natives that were from WA reservations, or came here on trains from the blackfoot or crow reservations. I've read anecdotal accounts of homeless being attracted here by relatively benign attitudes of the populace, and relatively generous benefits and services. and of course, our spectacular weather (i.e. it doesn't get below freezing much despite being wet and gloomy).
24
and does the city of Seattle require any sort of drug testing of homeless in order to receive benefits? I could be wrong- but of course homeless would be attracted to Seattle if they received benefits such as free cell phones, free housing, ability to put up tents and rvs without any push to become self sufficient and without any drug testing. I agree that some people have had a really hard life and should be shown compassion and helped out. But I also think that some people have been attracted to the city without any intention of changing their ways because they can continue an illegal lifestyle and receive benefits from the city with no questions asked. Of course more homeless will be attracted here.
25
@22,
26
Whoops, that was not meant to be posted yet. Hah. @22, I don't have specific statistics but as a social worker in Seattle, I can tell you anecdotally that a lot of other counties actively discourage homeless people from staying in their communities. There is one shelter in all of Snohomish County. Recently, I had a patient who was trying to go back to Everett from Seattle. When I called the shelter there, they said they were full and when I called a mental health triage program up there, they wouldn't take him specifically because he was homeless and said that he should stay in King County "where the services are." No matter where he wanted to go, or where he was from, apparently. @ 24 Drug testing for benefits has repeatedly been shown to be a total waste of money and time. Also, are you aware that DSHS cash benefits are only $197.00/month? Because no one is doing major scamming for that scant amount. Uhh, free housing? Try NO housing--our section 8 waiting lists have been closed for eons and subsidized wait lists are years out. Also most addicts have already lost their homes, their families, their health, etc due to their illness--do you really think that losing their food stamps or their 197 dollars is going to get them sober? Because that is not going to happen. And so, there are still going to be addicts and Seattle would be a much better place for everyone if people with addiction issues had a place to live and a way to meet their most basic needs.
27
@26 thanks for the great info. No I definitely don't think taking away $197 a month and food stamps will stop an addiction. And it's unfortunate that drug testing has been waste of time. i agree that the city would be better off with people off streets that have addiction issues. but right now it seems like the current solution is designated tent or rv locations. And most of which seem to have reports of using and selling drugs out of the rvs, and needles littering the area. Some of this in neighborhoods where people pay insanely inflated rates for homes. I'm curious to see how this issue of the rising homeless numbers will be treated. I think taxpayers are getting fed up being one of the few cities that Welcome the homeless, yet continue to see a rise in homeless drug addicts, tents underneath bridges and along highways, and people literally tripping out and laying on side walks in the middle of downtown at 2pm. I'm just not sure what's currently being done has really helped the problem and maybe it should be looked at from a different angle.
28
Not homeless. Vagrant.
30
It would be more effective to take all the people who go out to count in the middle of the night, to go out to the homeless during the day so we could get the following:
-a more accurate count and,
-info on the person to determine what is needed to stabilize them; that is enough data to know something about folks to create services that fit their needs

Some posters here talk of data and evidence based programming, successes in other cities, etc. But what you all need to know is that we have the money. It's that we DONT use programming that works because we haven't made the systemic changes that other cities made. Those cities went out and gathered info and engaged with their homeless. We like to have pity and hope they show up at our doorstep with issues that can be dealt with easily. Providers have been left in this kind of malaise because their leadership hasn't put together the kind of programming that is needed to be more effective. And the city and county leadership hasn't mandated how we collectively are responsible to put into action new programs and to make them work.

What we have gotten over the past 15 years are city and county human service departments, non profits and funders, all with skin in the game, but no one willing to accept responsibility and have the courage to take on the leadership to change how we maintain and increase supportive housing and SROs units, how we hold providers accountable to meeting outcomes of reducing homelessness, realign priorities for the most vulnerable ( mentally ill and addicted) and creating effective community partnerships with business that promote on going housing and employment training.

Instead we get ineffective sanctioned encampments, non profits still using approaches that are not effective to reduce homelessness, and some of these groups maintaining housing barriers that actually prevent the homeless from accessing their housing, no one taking responsibility, poor supportive housing planning and creation and another year of the pointless, useless One Night Count that has NEVER contributed to the problem except to give SKCCH, the group that runs the count, a chance to look like they actually provide a service that matters.

Signed: after 20 years of seeing crap leaders and terrible programming regurgitated, I'm leaving the social services world.
31
Let's say that by some miracle Seattle could provide homes for those 3000 or so homeless people. Not shelters but actual apartments with basic furnishings along with utility funding. How long do you think that it would take for another 300 to show up asking for theirs?