New federal stats released back in December showed that King County now has the third largest homeless population in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles. (Those stats were also very likely an undercount of the problem.)
Today, the Seattle Times' Project Homeless digs deeper into that data point, finding, among other things, that looking only at Seattle makes clear that the crisis is even more acute.
After readers asked more about the numbers, the Times compared the local homeless population to the total population in the region. Looking at the rate of homelessness per 10,000 residents put Seattle/King County lower on the list (6th). But when the Times looked only at the city of Seattle's per capita numbers, we ranked above Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles.
Looking just at the percent of people living outside, King County ranked 5th while east coast cities like New York didn't even make the top 10. Why? One possible factor:
D.C., Boston and New York disappear from the top 10 entirely — and it is probably not a coincidence that those are all places with some form of a legal right to shelter. Seattle, like most West Coast cities, doesn’t guarantee access to shelter.
Read the full story and see the maps here.
In recent years, local governments and homeless advocacy groups have reworked the annual one-night count in an effort to count more people. The next one-night count happens January 26. You can volunteer to help with the count right here.