A new federal report on homelessness shows King County behind only Los Angeles and New York City in the number of people living without permanent shelter.
King County has the third-largest concentration of homeless people in the country, a new federal report shows.
National homelessness figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development show that with an estimated count of 11,643 in 2017, King County trails behind only Los Angeles County and New York City in overall homeless population. That overall number includes people living in shelters and other facilities, as well as outdoors.
The department requires communities from around the country that receive federal dollars to conduct annual snapshot counts to track homeless numbers. A local point-in-time count was conducted in King County earlier this year.
King County also ranks third in the number of unsheltered homeless — people living in vehicles, tents and on local streets. The 5,485 unsheltered people counted in the county in 2017 represent a 21 percent increase over last year’s tally.
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The numbers underscore the severity of a problem that stretches from Seattle to San Diego. As rents soar and access to affordable housing shrinks, the number of people living in states along the West Coast is trending in the wrong direction.
In California, the number of people living without permanent shelter rose by nearly 14 percent, the report shows. Oregon saw a 5 percent increase this year, while in Washington the homeless population rose to 21,112 — an increase of 1 percent over the previous year.
The crisis has prompted several local governments, including those in the city of Seattle and King County, to declare a civil state of emergency.
In hopes of reducing the numbers, local authorities have begun a series of reforms. Earlier this month, officials announced $34 million in new contracts for homeless service providers, and they’ll hold the providers to new performance bench marks.
Combined with federal funding, officials are projecting a dramatic increase in the number of people moved off the streets. With its new funding plan, the city believes it can help move 7,399 people from homelessness into stable housing in 2018. That’s up from the 3,026 “exits from homelessness” projected for 2017.