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Homelessness rises 6.2% in Washington state

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Washington State experienced a 6.2% increase in homelessness between 2019-2020, during which time 30 out of every 10,000 people in the state were homeless. 

Washington had the third largest increase behind California and Texas, which occurred pre-pandemic.

The 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report found that the state also reported a 20% increase in family homelessness in the same time frame. This increase was one of the largest nationwide. 

Washington also had a substantial number of people in families with children that were unsheltered –28% or 1,884 of the families experiencing homelessness were unsheltered. Vancouver, Washington reported a majority, 54%, of the homeless families in the area were unsheltered.

Seattle and King County reported 3,743 people in families with children that are experiencing family homelessness. Spokane County reported 363 people. 

Seattle and King County ranked third among urban areas in the number of total people experiencing homelessness, behind New York City and Los Angeles. Seattle and King County had a total of 11,751 total people experiencing homelessness, 955 of which were unaccompanied homeless youth.

Across the same timeframe, homelessness grew by 2% nationwide. This marks the fourth consecutive year that total homelessness has increased in the United States. 

The report found that homelessness increased significantly among unsheltered populations and people that are experiencing chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness did not decrease compared to 2019, and family homelessness did not decrease for the first time since 2010. People of color are also significantly over-represented among the homeless population.

Denis McDonough, the U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs, said this was concerning.

Even a slight pre-pandemic uptick in veteran homelessness after significant declines since 2010 is extremely concerning. The Biden Administration’s recommitment to Housing First — a proven strategy and dignified way to help Veterans and others achieve stable, permanent housing — will help accelerate progress in preventing and eliminating veteran homelessness. The American Rescue Plan will also make a major impact in improving outcomes for veterans by expanding access to community-based homeless prevention and rapid rehousing services for those who may not qualify for VA care.”

This story was cross-posted on our sister site State of Reform.

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