Twenty percent of King County’s homeless population lives in the southwest part of the county, according to the recent Count Us In report.
Seventy percent of the county’s homeless live in Seattle, the count found.
In southwest King County – which includes Burien, Renton, Auburn, Kent, and Federal Way, among others – Lisa Christen runs five shelters and drop-in centers. She said the recent numbers point to the ripple effect caused by Seattle’s housing market
“Affordable housing is just really hard to find,” she said. Christen also mentioned the area’s proximity to I-5 makes it easier for those experiencing homeless to find available services.
Christen said the programs she runs need to expand.
“Increasing our shelter bed opportunities, making programs year-round,” she said. “We opened a day center in Federal Way. Our Kent engagement center is adding showers and laundry facilities for those who don’t have access to those.”
“We would love to serve everybody. It comes down to finances,” she continued.
Some on the street, like James Milene, have noticed longer lines at local food giveaways. Milene said the problem doesn’t get as much attention as in Seattle because it’s not as visible.
“You’re not going to see them all at one time, so you really don’t realize how many there are,” he said.
One the Eastside, which includes Bellevue and Redmond, there’s only five percent of the county’s homeless population. Christen that’s because of that area’s higher cost of living.