About Homelessness in King County
What causes homelessness in Seattle and King County?
The causes of homelessness are complex and could happen for a variety of reasons. Typically, homelessness is caused by a lack of affordable housing and experiences that directly impact a person’s ability to maintain housing. Approximately 24% of Count Us In Survey respondents cited losing their job as the main reason they became homeless.
How many people are experiencing homelessness in Seattle and King County?
All Home King County’s 2019 “Count Us In” survey found 11,199 people are experiencing homelessness across the county. Nearly half of these people were unsheltered, living on the street, or in parks, tents, vehicles, or other places not meant for people to live in.
Is it true that homelessness in King County impacts some people more than others?
Homelessness in King County affects everyone, but some communities are impacted more than others. African Americans make up 6% of King County’s population, yet they make up 32% of people experiencing homelessness. Ten percent of people experiencing homelessness identified as Native or of Indigenous descent, despite being <1% of the population.
Is it true that most people experiencing homelessness in King County aren’t originally from here, but come here because of the services?
No, that’s not true. According to All Home King County’s 2019 “Count Us In” survey, approximately 84% of respondents reported living in Seattle/King County immediately before they lost their housing. Nearly half (46%) of survey respondents indicated they were born in King County or had lived in King County for ten years or more.
Is it true that Seattle is the only city with a homelessness problem in King County?
No. Homelessness is an issue that affects communities across all of King County. Although 68% of the county’s unsheltered population identified during the 2019 one-time street count lived in Seattle, 21% lived in Southwest King County in areas like Auburn, Federal Way, and Renton.
Will housing for people experiencing homelessness negatively impact my neighborhood or the surrounding property values?
An NYU study found the opposite – new and permanent supportive housing developments tend to correlate with increasing property values in surrounding neighborhoods. Across King County, certain areas have seen continual increases, even as homelessness continues to impact our communities.
How can we end homelessness in Seattle and King County?
We can end homelessness in King County, but only if we unite our resources and work together. Service providers, nonprofits, businesses, experts and people who have experienced homelessness are developing a long-term, regional plan and putting it in action.
It involves three key strategies: crisis response, affordable housing, and mainstream systems and services. The first step in implementing these strategies was creating an entity for crisis response: the Regional Homelessness Authority. This was approved by the King County and Seattle City Councils in December 2019.
- The Authority will coordinate efforts to prevent homelessness, through response programs such as homeless shelters, and funding to maximize resources
- It will use real-time data from across King County to drive meaningful solutions
- It brings together elected officials, suburban city voices, and key community organizations and members to inform policy – and in doing so, ensures accountability to the public
- It pushes solutions for those unequally impacted by homelessness, such as low income, Black, Native and Indigenous families.
We Are In partners agree the Authority is an important step towards reducing homelessness. We encourage leaders to make sure the voices of people experiencing homelessness and service providers are at the center of all solutions.