Last Saturday, between 2 and 6 a.m., nearly 1,000 volunteers spanned across King County for Count Us In 2018, the annual Point in Time Count of individuals experiencing homelessness, coordinated annually by All Home. The unsheltered street count was conducted as a full canvass of all 398 census tracts in King County. Count teams included guides with current or prior experience of homelessness, who were compensated for their time and expertise with their assigned count area.
“Homelessness is a local and national emergency,” said United States Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “Walking block by block through streets booming with construction but then under the freeway in areas peppered with tents was a stark reminder of the deep inequities of wealth and income in our city. We can and must do better. The fact that we see thousands of people living unsheltered, in the streets and in cars, is a moral and institutional failure. I will do everything I can at the federal level to build the affordable housing we need, provide the support systems necessary for people to live and fix a broken tax system that benefits only the few. Solving this crisis will require all of us —government, business, nonprofits and communities — to share responsibility for real solutions. Count Us In is a crucial part of those efforts – I want to thank the dedicated volunteers who canvassed every part of King County and I am grateful to be a part of and to represent a community that cares so deeply about the vulnerable.”
Continuing with the nationally recognized methodology introduced at last year’s Count, the full range of count activities includes a street count of people living unsheltered, a count of people living in shelter or transitional housing, a qualitative survey of people experiencing homelessness, and specialized approaches to counting subpopulations, including youth/young adults, families, and those living in vehicles. Local advocates, service providers and Applied Survey Research (ASR), a Bay-area research firm contracted to help conduct the Count, have all been active and valued partners in the planning and implementation of Count Us In 2018.
“The fact that nearly one thousand volunteers joined us for tonight’s count demonstrates that our community is coming together to confront the homelessness crisis,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “It is that shared purpose and commitment that inspires the work we are doing with partners to ensure that everyone in King County has a safe, warm place to sleep at night.
While the Count’s core purpose is to collect data on the needs of people experiencing homelessness, it also provides an excellent opportunity to increase awareness and spark action. A successful and accurate Count is an essential component to informing local strategies to address homelessness and to making homelessness rare, brief and one-time.
“The Count is a great example of what can be accomplished when our neighbors, housed and unhoused, come together,” said Kira Zylstra, Acting Director of All Home. “Achieving our vision of ending racial disparities and making homelessness rare, brief and one-time will require the whole community engaging in solutions.”
A comprehensive report of Count Us In findings, including data on youth, vehicle residents, chronic homelessness and other specialized populations will be available in May of 2018. Point In Time counts are a requirement for communities that receive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Data collected from Point In Time counts across the nation are published on the HUD Exchange website and provided annually to Congress as part of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).