Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia) issued the following statement following the release of the 2017 “Count Us In” comprehensive tally of people who were sheltered and unsheltered in Seattle and King County. The new, more comprehensive count for Seattle found 4,619 people living in either emergency shelter or transitional housing, and 3,857 people living unsheltered (living on the street, in abandoned buildings, vans/cars/RVs, or tents):
“While our community did not need methodologically sound numbers to tell us we have a growing homelessness problem, we now have a precise understanding of the scope of our crisis. Our Pathways Home plan is a good beginning. We need to focus on implementing this plan with our regional partners, faster.
“We’ve had successes and we’ve stabilized thousands of households through expanded 24-7 shelter and rapid rehousing, but the number of people who are becoming homeless outpaces our resources. The number increases faster than we can build housing.
“This year we will invest in more low income housing and we will competitively bid over $30 million in homelessness services. But Seattle can’t do this alone, and the ‘brick and mortar’ options which are preferred by most are both slow to complete and expensive.
“We must better coordinate the good work occurring throughout the region, including King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish Counties, and join with philanthropic foundations, businesses and non-profits to create many different options in each county. We know that stagnant wages, lack of affordable housing, addiction, and inadequate behavioral health treatment alternatives are the underlying causes that perpetuate homelessness. Stable housing, job training, and mental health and drug treatment options must be made available and coordinated across all four counties.”