King County homeless population third-largest in US


While the overall homeless population in California, Oregon and Washington grew by 14 percent over the past two years, the part of that population considered unsheltered climbed 23 percent to 108,000.

King County has the third-largest concentration of homeless people in the country, a new federal report shows. The number of unsheltered population is up by almost 10 percent compared to two years ago.

Of those people experiencing homelessness, 41 percent were unsheltered, meaning they were staying in a public or private place not meant to accommodate a sleeping person, like a park bench or a vehicle. The count doesn't include people who were living with friends and relatives. The number dropped in the following years, but has never returned to the lower numbers seen before 2011. It does not take into account families and individuals who might experience homelessness at other times during the year.

In response to HUD releasing its annual Point-in-Time count announcing that homelessness has increased nationally for the first time since 2010, and although Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ( CCH ) does not doubt that homelessness on the rise, CCH Director of Policy Julie Dworkin said "we have always had serious concerns about the validity of the Point-in-Time count as an accurate reflection of trends in homelessness from year to year".

Back in January, a local point-in-time count found that 11,643 were experiencing homelessness in King County.

2,330 were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 975 persons were unsheltered.

That put to an end six straight years of decline from 2010, when 637,000 Americans were homeless.

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"In many high-cost areas of our country, especially along the West Coast, the severe shortage of affordable housing is manifesting itself on our streets", HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement.

A new federal report on homelessness in America offers a snapshot of how San Diego County is doing compared with other cities.

Nationwide, about 35 percent of the homeless are living in tents, cars and on the street.

One of the major consequences of the homeless explosion in the West Coast is a deadly hepatitis A outbreak that prompted California officials to declare a state of emergency two months ago.

Overall, 68.2 percent of the homeless in California are unsheltered, the highest rate of any state. About 38 percent of them are unsheltered.

In fast-growing Seattle, the unsheltered population grew by 44 percent to almost 5,500 over the past two years. That's a shift, as homeless numbers have gone down in the state every year since 2012.