The Seattle Times is joining other media in featuring coverage about homelessness on Wednesday. Get up to speed on the crisis here.

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Nearly two years since local leaders declared a state of emergency over homelessness, it remains a pressing regional crisis.

Since the Seattle Times joined with dozens of other local newsrooms to document the area’s homelessness problem last year, the number of people living without shelter increased by roughly nine percent. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray joined King County Executive Dow Constantine in calling for $275 million in new sales tax revenue to fight homelessness, while home prices often blamed for contributing to the crisis continue to skyrocket. 

Now, The Seattle Times again joins with area news organizations to promote informative coverage of the region’s homeless population and the efforts to being undertaken to house and aid them, and to prevent people from becoming homeless.

In their own words

“Anybody can end up homeless … we never thought it would be ‘us.’ We make the best out of our situation and do what we can to keep our small community clean. We try to enspire others to never quit. It’s been tough but its going to get better. Always push what’s inside you.” Leo B, 2-Paw, Biggie, Marie B. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
“Anybody can end up homeless … we never thought it would be ‘us.’ We make the best out of our situation and do what we can to keep our small community clean. We try to enspire others to never quit. It’s been tough but its going to get better. Always push what’s inside you.” Leo B, 2-Paw, Biggie, Marie B. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Some may not notice the homeless living on Seattle’s streets, sidewalks and encampments. Even fewer choose to listen to them. Believing they have something to say, writers and photographers at Pacific NW Magazine traveled to dozens of encampments around the Seattle area and invited residents to share their personal stories, observations and experiences living without shelter in one of the most affluent cities in the country.

How Seattle responds to the crisis

Will Ross counts the number of people living unsheltered in Seattle’s Sodo District as part of the King County homeless count in January. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times, file)
Will Ross counts the number of people living unsheltered in Seattle’s Sodo District as part of the King County homeless count in January. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times, file)

In Seattle, the numbers tell the tale. A January count of the region’s homeless showed a nine percent increase, while deaths among those living on the streets surged as spring arrived.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen pledged $30 million toward the construction of a badly needed supportive housing facility for the homeless, while the city continued the controversial removals of its largest unauthorized homeless encampments.

In recognition of the crisis, regional officials worked to overhaul the complicated system used by the city and others to measure the performance of the non-profits and other agencies paid to house and aid the homeless. We spent a few weeks analyzing whether those organizations were meeting their benchmarks.