Last week’s One Night Count of homeless people in King County had some pretty staggering results. The count was held in the early hours of Friday, January 24 and counters found that the number of people living without shelter in King County had increased by 381.
Teams of over 800 volunteers, supported by trained leaders, were dispatched from ten locations over King County to count every person that they could see outside overnight last Friday. Volunteers counted 3,177 men, women and children trying to survive in cars, tents, by riding all night buses, waiting in hospital emergency rooms, or curling up in blankets under bridges or in doorways.
The annual event, which is now in its 34th year, is organized by The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, an independent coalition of organizations and individuals that works on homelessness issues in our region. The purpose of count is to document how many people are lacking basic shelter, however One Night Count does not include people who are residing in shelters or transitional housing. The data collected at the count informs elected officials and planners at all levels of government about the extent of homelessness in King County.
“This year’s Count is an unmistakable call to action,” said Coalition Executive Director Alison Eisinger. “We ask everyone to call their state lawmakers and urge them to fund housing, shelter, and services. There is no overstating the urgent need in our own backyards.”
The Ballard Community Taskforce on Homelessness and Hunger released a statement in response to the 2014 One Night Count Results:
“The work we do together on this one night is just the beginning. This morning, returning to warmth indoors, volunteers told us of a teenager sleeping in a doorway with a suitcase, a family-size tent with a stroller parked outside, and a man who proudly showed counters the garden he created around his campsite. We are especially aware of this truth: everyone should have a place to call home… Our serious work starts now.”
How can you help, you may ask? Visit www.homelessinfo.org and find out about how to attend a free Homeless Advocacy 101” workshop on Feb. 1, volunteer for an organization that addresses the needs of homeless people or support the coalition through a financial donation.