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Homelessness in Seattle

homelessness in seattle statistics, homelessness in seattle washington
There are at least 2,942 people in Seattle each night who are unsheltered1

In the Seattle King County area, there are about 10,000 homeless people living on the streets or in shelters2 On January 23, 2015, the street count of homeless individuals was 3,772, the number of homeless individuals in Emergency Shelters was 3,282, and the number of homeless individuals in transitional housing was 2,993, for a total count of 10,047 homeless people2 The percentages by race of those living in shelters consisted of: African American 40%, White 31%, Hispanic 12%, Multi-racial 6%, Asian/Pacific Islander 4%, Native American 2%, with 5% unknowncitation needed


  • 1 Annual One Night Count
  • 2 Problems of homeless persons in the Seattle King County area
    • 21 Medical problems
    • 22 Violent Crimes
  • 3 Solutions to homelessness in Seattle
  • 4 Operation Sack Lunch
  • 5 Income sources
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Annual One Night Countedit

In many cities and communities around the United States, volunteers and service workers count the number of people sleeping without adequate shelter—whether on the streets, in a vehicle, in makeshift shelters and tents, under roads, under freeway ramps, and the like— in one overnight period3 However, it is acknowledged that such counts cannot count all homeless people, nor cover all areas of the city

The yearly One Night Count of the Homeless ONC in the Seattle and King County area is coordinated by Seattle/King County Coalition on HomelessnessSKCCH4 in coordination with other local social service providers, including The Downtown Emergency Service Center DESC, The Compass Center, United Way of King County, and others The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness SKCCH, along with Operation Nightwatch, has organized Seattle/King County's one night count since 1980 Its website claims that "King County has one of the nation's best-established point-in-time counts of homeless people, and the One Night Count that is coordinated by that group is the largest community-organized effort" in the country5

The One Night Count from 2010 through 2016 for those living without shelter are as follows:

Year Count Citation
2010 2,759 6
2011 2,442 7
2012 2,594 8
2013 2,736 9
2014 3,123 10
2015 3,772 11
2016 4,505 12
2017 5,485 13

The One Night Count collects figures for those in shelters and transitional housing and releases those figures as well In 1999, the count of homeless persons living both unhoused as defined above and in shelters throughout King County was 5,900 In 2000, the count was 6,900 homeless people; in 2001, 7,350; in 2002, 7,980; in 2003, 8,000; in 2004, 8,300; in 2006, 7,919; in 2007, 7,839; and in 2008, 8,4391415 In 2012, the One Night Count tallied 8,830 homeless people in King County, including those in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs This number is essentially unchanged since 2009 In 2014, the figure was 9,294 people,10 and in 2015, the figure was about 10,300 people 3,772 counted outside, plus about 6,500 in shelters, transitional housing, and so on11

Problems of homeless persons in the Seattle King County areaedit

Medical problemsedit

Many homeless people have health problems Diabetes is a common ailment Many homeless people do not seek or cannot afford adequate healthcare In 2003, 47% of homeless individuals had one chronic condition Health conditions among homeless persons in the Seattle area have included a history of alcohol or substance abuse; more than half had a cardiovascular disease; and a quarter had a mental health issue Common causes of death among homeless people in the Seattle area include intoxication, cardiovascular disease, and homicide In 2003, the average age of death of a homeless person was 471617 In 2009, reported disabilities in the King county homeless housing include 1,001 mentally ill, with 476 having a serious mental illness; 1,090 had an alcohol or substance abuse, with 595 having a chronic substance abuse; 534 homeless people were physically disabled, 99 had HIV/AIDS, and 140 had a developmental disabilitycitation needed

Violent Crimesedit

In December 2007, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a measure prohibiting malicious harassment of a homeless person and declaring the act a hate crime This law makes it illegal to damage a homeless person's personal items as well18

Solutions to homelessness in Seattleedit

The City of Seattle, King County, and the United Way of King County are the funders of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County and the Ten year plan to End Homelessness The 10-year plan began in 2004 as an idea when a group of people consisting of leaders representing United Way of King County, businesses, faith based communities, housing organizations and human services organizations, homeless people and governmentswhich addressed the issue of homelessness In 2005 the 10-year plan was completed "The 10 year plans goals are to promote long-term and sustainable solutions to homelessness including alignment of funding, programs and services among the public, private and non-profit sectors" 9 In 2009 the city of Seattle plans to spend $40 million to end homelessness The Seattle Human Services Department and Seattle Office of Housing are major funding contributors to this plan9

Every year the city of Seattle spends about $40 million to help prevent homelessness, and in 2006 Seattle has since been adding $6 million more in general funding resources The Seattle city has helped pay for 215 housing units in Seattle 288 are currently under construction and planned to open by 201116

Share/Wheel is self-help organization run by many homeless residents of Seattle Share/Wheel has created 4 Tent Cities through the years The first Tent City set up in 1990 at the Goodwill Games It later became a self-managed homeless shelter at a Metro Bus Barn It eventually moved to the Aloha Inn and created a self-managed Transitional Housing program Tent City 2 was established on Beacon Hill in what would later become known as The Jungle Seattle, against the objections of the City of Seattle Eviction notices were posted on the tents on July 2 Four days later on July 6th, while most of the residents met with City Council member Peter Steinbrueck who was attempting to delay action against the settlement, the Police bulldozed the camp site and private possessions1920 Tent City 3 was created on March 31, 2000, on private land The police did not intervene, but the City of Seattle sued the host over unpaid permit fees SHARE/WHEEL and the City of Seattle settled out of court with a Consent Decree21"22 after a Superior Court judge warned the City that it would lose the case Tent City 3 moves from location to location every 60–90 days Tent City 4 split from Tent City 3 and shifts from place to place on the East side of Lake Washington Tent cities shelter homeless persons who can not or do not wish to attend a public shelter for various reasons The City of Seattle does not approve of these tent cities23 Effective March 13, 2012, the Consent Decree between SHARE/WHEEL and the City of Seattle ended Tent City 3 has been studied extensively, and is noted by many in the United States to be an encampment that works24

There are other encampments in the Seattle area:

  • Nickelsville,25 Nickelsville formed in 2008 in protest over the policies of Mayor Nickels, whom they believed was encouraging the police to assault, injure, and browbeat the homeless It has no formal connection to SHARE/WHEEL
  • United We Stand is an encampment of up to 35 people, which split from Tent City 3 in late 20142627
  • Camp Unity Eastside is an encampment of up to 100 people, on the east side of Lake Washington in King County, which split from Tent City 4 in late 20122829

There are homeless shelters across the Seattle area that provide beds, meals, showers, and laundry services Most shelters in the Seattle area require their residents to leave the shelter between 5 and 7 AM

Operation Sack Lunchedit

In 2012, the city of Seattle attempted to force Operation Sack Lunch, a homeless feeding program located outdoors under I-5 freeway viaduct, to close down The city says that an indoor feeding center would be much more appropriate After more than three years since the proposed closing of Operation Sack Lunch, the city has not provided an indoor location3031

Human Services Director Danette Smith was behind the shutdown of Operation Sack Lunch's Outdoor Feeding program3233 Manywho Council members felt strongly that the program should not be shut down34

The Human Services Department has since relented in its demand, partly due to public outrage35 In fall of 2012, a transition program was recommended by a Mayor-appointed Task Force36 However, no alternative sites have yet been proposed

Income sourcesedit

Real Change news is a newspaper sold by homeless street vendors, they buy the paper for 60 cents and sell it for two dollars The Real Change has increased in sales by 41% since 2007 An increase in vendors was also recorded, growing from approximately 230 to 350 vendors in one month16

In 2009, income resources used by homeless persons include: 558 homeless persons receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families TANF, 481 receive Supplemental Security Income SSI, 355 receive general assistance GAU, 233 have an other source of income, 142 are on general assistance GAX, 49 receive unemployment compensation, 21 receive income through the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Act ADATSA, and 590 homeless persons whom have an unknown incomecitation needed


  1. ^ Homelessness, Seattle/King County Coalition on "One Night Count" wwwhomelessinfoorg Retrieved 2016-07-24 
  2. ^ a b Homelessness, Seattle/King County Coalition on "One Night Count" wwwhomelessinfoorg Retrieved 2016-07-24 
  3. ^ Dawdy, Philip April 19, 2006 "Back to the Task at Hand" Seattle Weekly 
  4. ^ Cydney, Gillis "Law maker to seek hate crime status for attacks on homeless" Real change Newsorg Real change News, 4 Nov 2009 Web 18 Nov 2009
  5. ^ 1
  6. ^ 2 2011 One Night Count results
  7. ^ 3 2011 One Night Count results
  8. ^ 4 SKCCH One Night Count 2012 results
  9. ^ 5 2013 One Night Count Results
  10. ^ a b 6 2014 One Night Count Results
  11. ^ a b 7 2015 One Night Count Results
  12. ^ 8
  13. ^ 9
  14. ^ 10
  15. ^ 11
  16. ^ a b c Blanchard, Jessica December 14, 2004 "Homeless people studied died at average age of 47" The Seattle Times 
  17. ^ Painter, Alan "The Greater Seattle Datasheet" City of Seattle Net Seattlegov, 16 Dec 2004 Web 18 Nov 2009
  18. ^ Painter, Alan "Ten Year plan to end Homelessness" Seattle Gov Seattlegov, 16 Dec 2004 Web 18 Nov 2009
  19. ^ http://hpnasuedu/archives/Jul98/0006html
  20. ^ http://communityseattletimesnwsourcecom/archive/date=19980707&slug=2759896
  21. ^ Consent Decree Consent Decree
  22. ^ Tent City 3 Tent City 3
  23. ^ Gregory J, Nickels "Housing first approach to Homelessness Brings hope to hard lives" City of Seattle 1 9 2008: N web 10/11 2009
  24. ^ 12 Tent City primer
  25. ^ 13 Nickelsvilleorg
  26. ^ 14 United We Stand at Richmond Beach UCC
  27. ^ 15 United We Stand splits from Tent City 3
  28. ^ 16 Camp Unite Eastside
  29. ^ 17 Tent City dispute
  30. ^ King 5 News
  31. ^ 18 Operation Sack Lunch newsletter, Spring 2012
  32. ^ 19 Operation Sack Lunch saved
  33. ^ 20 Danette Smith discusses depriving homeless of meals
  34. ^ 21 Godden about Operation Sack Lunch
  35. ^ 22 Operation Sack Lunch outdoor meal program still operating
  36. ^ 23 OSL newsletter, Fall 2012

External linksedit

  • Seattle Homeless Needs Assessment 2009
  • The Downtown Emergency Service Center
  • SKCCH 2009 One Night Count Summary Information
  • SKCCH One Night Count Summary Archive, 2003-2008
  • Seattle Housing and Resource Effort / Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League
  • Leaves of Remembrance: The Homeless Remembrance Project
  • Facing Homelessness

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