A new assessment of Seattle’s 3,000 homeless people will help the city’s fight against homelessness, officials said.
Many of the men and women without permanent shelter were living in Seattle when they became homeless. Large numbers of them are military veterans and former foster children. And a majority would move into permanent housing if it were available.
Those are just three of the findings from a recently completed survey of Seattle’s homeless population, according to Seattle Human Services Department officials. The study was commissioned by the city in 2016 to assess the service needs of the estimated 3,000 homeless living outdoors and inside temporary housing facilities, officials said.
The assessment comes more than a year after Mayor Ed Murray first declared a state of emergency in Seattle over rising rates of homelessness. In the 14 months since, Murray’s office has offered Pathways Home, an outline for fighting homelessness that emphasizes helping people find permanent housing, and proposed a new $55 million-a-year property-tax levy that could double the city’s funding to fight homelessness.
Department officials said the assessment highlights the gaps in the complex web of services provided to aid the homeless, and can help the city decide what resources to bring to bear to curb the trend.
Set for release Friday, the results also paint a demographic portrait of the estimated 3,000 homeless living in Seattle. Paid surveyors interviewed more than 1,000 people, the department said. They also held several focus groups with 80 others in different parts of the city to target specific demographic groups.
According to the results, about 29 percent of those surveyed are between the ages of 31 and 40. Nearly half are white. Twenty-three percent of those interviewed reported having attended college.
The survey also indicates that much of the homeless population is “homegrown,” with nearly 70 percent telling surveyors they were living in Seattle when they last had stable housing. Only 13 percent reported living outside of the state when they became homeless.