Annual census results show decline in homelessness in Washington State

Point in Time Count shows services effective, still work to be done

OLYMPIA, WA – Homelessness has decreased throughout the state, according to numbers released today by the Washington State Department of Commerce. The numbers are from the statewide annual Point in Time Count that took place January 24, 2013.

Local homeless service providers and volunteers across the state counted 17,775 people living unsheltered or in emergency shelters or transitional housing. Of those, 5,043 were unsheltered – an 8 percent decrease in the rate of homelessness from 2012 and a 15 percent decrease from 2006. There were 133 unsheltered families with children (463 people) – a 28 percent decrease in the rate of homelessness from 2012 and a 73 percent decrease from 2006.

“We are moving in the right direction to reduce homelessness across the state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “These numbers illustrate the effectiveness of programs like Housing and Essential Needs, the Consolidated Homeless Grant, and other local and federal programs. However, there is still work to be done to help people living on the streets, in the woods, in cars, and in shelters.”

The reduction in homelessness can be attributed to an increase in homelessness programs. These include programs like Housing and Essential Needs and the Consolidated Homeless Grant – which both started in 2012 – and other local, state and federal homelessness programs. These programs address homelessness by providing resources to help people out of homelessness and into their own permanent housing with temporary rental assistance. There were about 3,500 more households receiving this assistance during the 2013 Point in Time Count than during the 2012 Point in Time Count.

The data collected from the count is reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is used at the state and national level to inform planning and analyze performance of programs aimed at serving homeless individuals and families.

“This data helps confirm that homelessness is declining across the state,” said Commerce Deputy Director Dan McConnon. “Without programs to help people overcome homelessness, the numbers would be much higher. Data collected through other programs shows that, throughout Washington, data-driven investments and locally designed programs have helped reduce the overall incidence of homelessness by 29 percent statewide and 74 percent for unsheltered households with children since 2006.”

The annual Point in Time Count of homeless people counts individuals and families living in places not designed for sleeping or in emergency shelters or transitional housing. The count does not include individuals and families that are doubled-up or temporarily staying with family or friends. The count captures one night out of the year.


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