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Friday, January 28, 2011

One Night Count Records Drop in Homeless Population

Posted by on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Early this morning, volunteers canvassing streets, parks, and buses all across King County recorded 2,442 people sleeping outside and in makeshift shelters as part of the 31st annual One Night Count of people who are homeless.

"That's 317 fewer people than teams counted one year ago, a drop of 11 percent," Alison Eisinger, the executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH), writes in a press release sent early this morning (SKCCH organizes the count). "This is the first double-digit drop we have seen in years of counting."

SKCCH says that the count is a preliminary estimate and doesn't reflect the 6,000 people staying in emergency shelter and transitional housing overnight. Still, it shows a significant drop in King County's unsheltered homeless population. SKCCH says a number of factors could contribute to the drop. For instance, more winter shelters were open in downtown Seattle and Redmond this year, keeping people of the streets. Recent flooding in Auburn, Renton, and Kent kept some areas from being counted by volunteers. And more housing options (including over 400 new apartments) have become available to homeless people through the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

I was among roughly 900 other volunteers (including Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle City Council Members Sally Bagshaw and Tim Burgess) who counted the homeless between 2:00 to 5:00 a.m. this morning. It was my first experience with the One Night Count and I was placed in Belltown, which is coincidentally my neighborhood.

Here's an uncomfortable thing that happens when you're counting homeless people in your neighborhood: You see people you recognize, sleeping in doorways. You run into people you know—repeatedly—as they prowl the streets for hours (someone called it "survival walking"). And the first few times you say "hello!" when you see them because it seems like the polite thing to do but after awhile you realize that it makes them uncomfortable. They're pretending they have somewhere to be at 3:00 a.m. and 3:30 and 4:00 and every time you say "hello!" you ruin that pretense and make them feel ashamed.

And that is a horrible feeling. Like going to a petting zoo and coming home with dinner.

This year my group counted 74 homeless people in Belltown. My group leader was heartened by this number—last year his group found around 150 homeless people in the area.


Comments (11) RSS

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I currently operate in and out of the Jungle alone and I am female and 40. I cannot understand folks that want to help the homeless but count only what they want to count. That is bullshit!

Not one count-not one is ever accurate! I am outraged that the city (cowards that they are) would except figures like these and claim they are trying to solve homelessness. As far as I am concerned the "office monkey's" need to stay in the office.
Posted by DocSeattle on January 29, 2011 at 7:14 AM · Report this
If you are afraid to go into areas in which the homeless live, then you shouldn't be counting the homeless.

Posted by DocSeattle on January 29, 2011 at 5:29 AM · Report this
They keep counting the same areas each year. As Cop's continue to harass the homeless, which they did just recently, it screws up the count. These person campaigns by the cop's just push the homeless deeper into the green belt. Alison needs to count correctly. It's sad that we cannot come up with a much more accurate count. Perhaps the Office Monkey's (Poppe) in D.C. can shed some light as to what is being planned for the homeless here.
Posted by DocSeattle on January 29, 2011 at 5:02 AM · Report this
The number of housing units have not kept pace with what's needed. What has definitely happened is that the City of Seattle has placed no parking 3-5 am signs on streets where people living in cars parked, cars have been impounded, fences have gone up on vacant lots where people slept, newly-homeless families are couch-surfing (the count of homeless schoolchildren is up statewide), counters can't safely penetrate into all greenbelts, and gentrification (in Ballard and Beacon Hill) have pushed out homeless people. They haven't all died (although a distressing number do), they haven't all disappeared; they've gone deeper into areas where we can't count them, or into shelters. Wait for the count of sheltered homeless before you gloat.
Posted by sarah68 on January 28, 2011 at 6:39 PM · Report this
I don't know if this information is suppose to make me feel happy, or glad, that less homeless people are being counted, one night out of 365 nights in a year. As number 3 stated, what about the jungle? As people are being harassed more and more simply for being homeless in this city, because they are reminder that maybe we are not be able to end homelessnes, wouldn't it make sense that they are going to areas outside the city? We wanna pretend that we are somehow making progress toward what I feel is an unrealistic goal. The ten year plan to end homelessness, now more than half way through, is really the ten year plan to end all evidence of homelessness in the city limits. Sorry for the negativity, but I feel that this is not a meaningful or statistically significant indication of our unrealistic goal to end homelessness.
Posted by dave98112 on January 28, 2011 at 5:03 PM · Report this
TVDinner 6
What heartening news to learn that policy changes can make a real difference in people's lives. I hope the census goes to zero next year.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 28, 2011 at 4:57 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 5
Of course, the millions and millions that we have poured into low-income housing just couldn't have had any impact at all. Really, it's getting worse. Really! It always does! Who are you going to believe, statistics?
Posted by kk in seattle on January 28, 2011 at 2:31 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 4

Homeless people are the canary in a coal mine for the sudden, rapid depopulation of Seattle.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on January 28, 2011 at 2:22 PM · Report this
Did these counts include the Jungle? You know, where the police are afraid to go?
Posted by Lack Thereof on January 28, 2011 at 2:15 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
In the real world, the homeless people off the N 45th exit from I-5 are still fighting for who gets to panhandle from drivers, mind you.

They all moved from Belltown to Fremont and Ballard. Which you'd know if you ever went outside.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 28, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
There is no way this number reflects reality.
I work in a public building that is open during the day and becomes the daytime "residence" of many of Seattle's homeless. And, there is no doubt, the number has increased in the last year. There are close to double the amount of people.
Posted by tacomagirl on January 28, 2011 at 1:04 PM · Report this

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