SEATTLE — Washington saw an overall drop in the number of homeless individuals from 2018, according to survey results released Monday from the Washington State Department of Commerce.
During a one-night count in January, volunteers recorded 21,621 homeless, which is a drop of about 3.1%.
The biggest gains were made with unsheltered individuals, which includes people sleeping outside, in cars, or parks. That population dropped by 1,022 people or 9.6%, according to the survey. Sheltered individuals, which includes those in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or in hotels and motels, grew by 322 people.
Some of the statewide drop is due to a decrease in King County, which has the greatest number of homeless in the state and saw fewer homeless for the first time in years. King County data found 11,199 people experiencing homelessness, which an 8% decrease from the previous year.
Overall the other 38 counties in the state combined for an increase in 230 homeless individuals, 70 of which were unsheltered. However, about half of Washington counties – 18 of 39 counties – saw a decline in homelessness.
Snohomish County saw the biggest increase in homelessness with 258 more people experiencing homelessness than last year.
The Department of Commerce cited data from the Homeless Management Information System that 29,800 people were successfully housed between October 2017 and September 2018.
Tedd Kelleher, managing director of homeless programs at the Department of Commerce, pointed to an emphasis on rapid rehousing, which includes case management and rental assistance, as an approach to efficiently move people out of homelessness.