Preliminary Point in Time count results show decrease in Snohomish County homelessness

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A preliminary review of the annual Point-in-Time count in Snohomish County shows a decrease in homelessness, according to a release by Snohomish County.

The Point-in-Time count happens every January. Teams of volunteers conduct outreach and surveys to get a count of homeless people.

At the time of the count on Jan. 23, 2018, 378 people in 331 households were unsheltered in Snohomish County, a 27 percent decrease from last year. In 2017, that number was 515 persons in 447 households.

Though the Point-in-Time count has fluctuated from year to year, the overall trend since 2013 shows a 9.9 percent increase.

“We are encouraged that our efforts to eliminate homelessness seem to be making progress in one critical area, but there is still much work to do,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive.  “With our housing prices booming, some are left out and end up on our streets and in camps. To relieve human suffering, we are finding innovative ways to help our fellow residents find a place to call home and get the services they need. I applaud all of those who have selflessly worked to stem the tide of homelessness and give our neighbors hope.”

Additionally, this year’s count of unsheltered individuals showed a decrease in chronically homeless individuals from 313 in the 2017 count to 270 in 2018, according to a release by Snohomish County. Chronically homeless individuals make up a substantial percentage of those unsheltered, representing 71.4 percent of the unsheltered homeless count.

Chronically homeless individuals are those with a disability who have been homeless continuously for at least 12 months, or who, on at least four separate occasions, had a combined length of time in homelessness of at least 12 months over the last three years.

The count also showed a high number of individuals who had two or three disabling conditions, including mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and/or chronic medical conditions, pointing to the need of more intensive and individualized evidence-based services.

“We will continue to implement proven strategies to help those suffering from homelessness,” said Council Chair Stephanie Wright.  “When our neighbors need help, we must do what we can to assist them.”

The annual count is a key measure used to inform priorities for federal, state and local funding and helps gauge progress toward ending homelessness for vulnerable individuals and families. The analysis and overall trends are utilized by the Snohomish County Partnership to End Homelessness to address needs and track progress toward goals to prevent, reduce and end homelessness.

“The Point in Time results for 2018 show a small but significant decrease in the number of chronically homeless individuals living without shelter,” said Mary Jane Brell-Vujovic, Human Services Director. “However, chronically homeless individuals comprise a growing percentage of Snohomish County residents who are unsheltered. This is of great concern to our community. We know that people become homeless due to a variety of circumstances. Regardless of cause, we must work to reduce human suffering and provide a path forward for men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in Snohomish County.”

Outreach workers and navigators were able to assist a number of people during the count to begin accessing needed services, shelter and/or housing.

County staff also give their thanks to all the volunteers and agency staff who made the count possible in January.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story showed an overall 9.9 percent decrease from 2013, per information provided by Snohomish County. That number should be a 9.9 percent increase from 2013, according to a correction by Snohomish County issued Feb. 7.

3 Replies to “Preliminary Point in Time count results show decrease in Snohomish County homelessness”

  1. I participated in the 2017 and 2018 Point in Time counts. This year, it was pouring rain throughout the day as compared with little rain last year. I wonder if the weather impacted our ability to find and count the homeless, hence the decrease this year?

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    1. Thank you for participating in this! And you have a very good point! It would seem like it would? Not to say perhaps we aren’t trending down, but as this cannot be an exact calculation it is good to consider other factors as well.

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  2. Yes, Pat, I do think the weather might have impacted the count. I volunteer at Neighbors In Need at Trinity Lutheran Church on Saturday mornings, and I notice that when it is very rainy we have fewer guests. I do think most stay under cover somewhere, so therefore they are not that easy to spot/count. When it is not so rainy, our numbers are way up, with many more new people showing up each week.

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