Sunny side of the homeless count—is there one?

By United Way of King County, on June 19, 2018 | In Fighting Homelessness, News

Discouraged by the recent news on the homeless count? It’s not easy to see yet another year of increasing numbers of people living without homes.

Do the reports on the 4% increase in the homeless count number leave you feeling blah? 4%  definitely doesn’t seem that bad without any context. In numbers, it means in 2017, 11,643 people were counted as homeless. In 2018, it’s 12,112. Almost Key Arena at capacity.

We must act now, and here’s how.

There is positive news about Count Us In that should have you feeling like yes, we are doing something to help. Yes, we are making progress to move people off the streets.

Homeless Count Positives

Here are 4 homelessness points that our community can feel good about—and keep the momentum going.

  1. Fewer veterans are homeless. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness decreased by 31%.
  2. Fewer families are homeless. That number in the homeless count decreased by 7%.
    See the full Count Us In report.
  3. Streets to Home is working. This United Way program has helped thousands of people like Ariel. It’s often just a paycheck or medical crisis that brings people into homelessness. And it’s often that simple to bring them out of it too. That’s what Streets to Home funds do.
  4. Jobs Connect is working. You can’t move into housing or pay rent without an income. That’s why, with Jobs Connect, we invest in connecting people who are homeless and able to work with employers who can put them to work. Since July 2017, we’ve connected 1,546 people to employment. Meet Justin, whom we met through Jobs Connect and caught up with recently to see how he’s doing.

In the pilot year of Jobs Connect, we connected 163 people to jobs—and now, we’re taking the program to scale. Since July 2017, we’ve connected 1,546 people to employment. Over time, we anticipate connecting with 6,000 clients annually.

5. Community awareness is up. Now more than ever, people in the Seattle area are demanding results for the homelessness crisis. You saw that with the news around the head tax. Even Pearl Jam is focusing the Home Shows on the issue of homelessness. Where there’s a community will to do something, there’s a way to make it so.

If I were going to a job interview at a big company, they might have seen me walking in off the street and they would have thought differently about me. Through Jobs Connect, my employers saw me. They saw my work ethic. I could put that on display instead of homelessness.


We’re investing in Streets to Home and Jobs Connect because they’re working. The results the two programs are achieving are more than numbers. They’re people who deserve the basic human right of a roof overhead. It’s often just a paycheck or medical crisis that brings people into homelessness. And it’s often that simple to bring them out of it too.

Want to help more people like Justin and Ariel? Want to join in helping end the homelessness crisis and get next year’s homeless count down across the board? Read more details on how you can end homelessness with us. And find the exact way you can end homelessness for someone by volunteering.


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