Each year the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, organizes a one night count of people all over King County sleeping in their cars, in doorways, under bridges, in greenbelts, and in doorways. This year 1000 people participated in the count. This year, these volunteers counted 3,772 people without shelter in King County last night. This represents a 21% increase from last year. Another approximately 6,000 are in King County emergency shelters and transitional housing. 2,813 of these people were counted in Seattle. This number does not include the approximately 140 people living in 4 Tent Cities in Seattle.
The number of people who go without even the most basic shelter is – and has been – a crisis. Today Real Change brought a gong to City Hall and asked people to sound the gong one time for every person sleeping outside. This kept the gong sounding from 9 am – 1 pm today. On Wednesday, January 28 in Olympia, they will take the gong on the road and gather at the Capitol to strike the gong again once for each homeless person counted in King County this morning. State representatives will join them, as I did here at City Hall today.
In 2005, Seattle-King County, as well as most major jurisdictions in the nation, developed a plan intended to end homelessness in ten years. They are wisely, I think, seeking to “pivot” their plan to recognize that we must act urgently and strategically. It is timely that the Committee to End Homelessness (CEH) is seeking input on CEH’s draft strategic plan. I would like to end people’s homelessness, but I have always believed, and continue to believe, that the immediate safety of people on the street who do not even have basic shelter is the highest priority. In 2012, the sheltering rates for Seattle/King County was 70.6%. This means of the total number of homeless people in Seattle/King County, 29.4% were unsheltered. On the other hand, New York City’s sheltering rate was 94.2% and Boston’s was 96.6%. I would like our region to commit to a goal of a higher sheltering rate. I encourage you you provide your input to the CEH draft strategic plan by going to this link and using the public comment form here.