Like King County, volunteers conducted an annual tally last week, of which found a significant increase in the number of people sleeping outside over last year.
The 2016 annual count of people sleeping on Snohomish County streets showed a 54 percent increase over last year, a trend in sync with the Seattle-area’s growing homelessness population.
Volunteers collected the tally during the day Thursday, hours before crews conducted a similar count in King County and within the same week homelessness dominated Seattle-area news. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers released preliminary numbers of his area’s count on Monday, called Point In Time (PIT).
“The preliminary numbers are worrying,” Somers said in a statement. “As anticipated, there is a significant upswing.”
The count found 481 people sleeping outside, compared to 312 last year. Families with children sleeping outside more than doubled, the count found. Volunteers tallied 35 compared to 16 in 2015.
The 2016 early estimates do not yet include the number of homeless people living in temporary shelters or other places, which made up 68 percent of the count last year. They also do not break down the numbers by location.
Robin Hood, who coordinates the effort, said it is unclear when the final numbers will be released. During the annual count, volunteers conduct interviews with willing participants and try to gather data to determine what factors led them to homelessness, which takes time to process, he said.
In the 2015 count, nearly 45 percent of the people sleeping outside were in Everett and most of the rest were in Lynnwood and Marysville. In total, volunteers counted 966 people without stable housing last year.
In Seattle and across King County, the 2016 estimate of people sleeping outside showed a 19 percent increase over last year, totaling more than 4,500 people.
Volunteers took that count early Friday, near the end of a week in which homelessness dominated headlines. Mayor Ed Murray, who with King County Executive Dow Constantine, declared states of emergency over homelessness, gave a series of interviews and delivered a televised speech Tuesday about the area’s crisis.
Shortly before the speech, five people were shot, two fatally, in the notorious homeless encampment in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood called The Jungle. In aftermath of the shooting, the mayor spoke again about homelessness at media briefings. Three teens were arrested Monday night in those killings.
Information from the Seattle Times archives was included in this report.