The scope of homelessness in our community used to be measured with the One Night Count system. A new system, Count Us In, replaced it this year on Jan. 27.
The Count Us In method will utilize different data collection methods for the full range of homelessness count activities. The count will include a street count of people living unsheltered, those living in sheltered or transitional housing, a qualitative survey of people experiencing homelessness and specialized approaches to count people living in vehicles, according to a press release.
This new system intends to obtain comprehensive, accurate and actionable data through the annual count. According to the release an accurate count is imperative to the county’s response to homelessness.
The system of Count Us In compared to the One Night Count includes the addition of paid guides, who are currently or formerly homeless individuals with lived in or near their count area. This is a shift from known areas to a 100 percent canvass of every site in King County and the survey efforts include both shelter/service sites as well as nonservice locations.
With the new count system, an unsheltered number will not be available right away following the street count, like it used to be in previous years using the One Night Count system. The numbers will be available in the spring of this year. The numbers to be released will be the findings on homeless youth, vehicle residents, chronic homelessness and other specialized populations.
The release noted that homelessness continues to be a vexing problem in King County. The goal with a system like Count Us In is to help make homelessness rare and brief until no individual or family sleeps outside.