The number of homeless on Snohomish County streets increased 12 percent in 2014 over 2013 numbers.
Forty-one more people lived on the street this year compared to last year, according to data released last week by Snohomish County’s Human Services department. On Jan. 23, more than 130 volunteers across the county surveyed a total of 1,312 people who identified themselves as homeless. That number includes 33 people living in abandoned buildings, 227 people living outside in tents and on the street, and 122 people living in their vehicles. Another 602 people, representing 327 households, are living in emergency shelters or transitional housing.
Though not meeting the federal definition of homeless, an additional 325 people in 232 households said they are couch-surfing or temporarily living with family or friends. “My wife and I and our child have been homeless for close to three months now,” said one survey participant. “Every day gets tougher living out of our car. Finding a job has been our biggest struggle when we don’t have an address.”
Survey-takers said these stories were common to hear from those who came to one of the five staging areas across the county, including Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Lynnwood. Volunteers gave out food, warm clothes, hygiene kits, ORCA cards, tents and sleeping bags to people who came to the staging areas. Volunteers from Within Reach also helped people apply for health coverage and food stamps.
The annual count is required each year to direct state and federal funding to Snohomish County. It also gives the county’s Human Services department and local service agencies a chance to more fully understand the nature of homelessness across the county.
Snohomish County continues to compile data from the annual survey and plans to release a full report within the next month.