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Inside Seattle

Inside Seattle (May 28th, 2019)

For today’s issue of Inside Seattle, we are taking an in-depth look at the city’s homeless crisis. There are believed to be well over 12,000 combined unsheltered (living on the street, in vehicles or in tents) and sheltered (living in shelters or transitional housing) homeless people in King County on any given night. While many solutions for this deep-rooted issue have been proposed, there have ultimately been no concrete answers to solving homelessness on a grand scale. This edition of Inside Seattle will touch on the current state of homelessness in the greater Seattle area, as well as its challenges, proposed solutions and what lies ahead.

Inside Seattle will return in its regular format on Thursday. We hope you enjoy this topic takeover edition and learn something about an issue that greatly impacts our community.

Sincerely,

Nick
 

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According to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Seattle has the nation’s third highest total homeless population of 12,112, trailing only New York (78,676) and Los Angeles (49,955). In 2018, the Seattle/King County area was believed to have had 6,320 unsheltered homeless inhabitants, which was up 15 percent from the previous year. Last year was also the first time the area had more unsheltered than sheltered homeless. The area's overall homeless population saw a four percent increase from the previous year. – KOMO NEWS

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King County’s unsheltered population has grown nearly 2.5 times its size since 2012. Of that faction, 1,611 were reported to be living outside on the street. Last year’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling made it illegal to criminally punish people for sleeping in the street if they had no way of obtaining shelter. – MY NORTHWEST
 

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More than half of the unsheltered population in Seattle is believed to be living in vehicles. The area’s annual One Night Count of homelessness revealed a 46 percent increase in people living vehicles. With the vehicle-dwelling community sitting at more than 3,330 people, the city has tried their hand at creating RV lots sanctioned for homeless residents, but it led to increased crime and drug use, and several residents and businesses filing complaints to the city. - SEATTLE TIMES

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The City of Seattle was declared to be in a state of emergency for homelessness in 2015 by former Mayor Ed Murray. The city is still in a state of emergency under current Mayor Jenny Durkan, with the Puget Sound Business Journal reporting that over $1 billion total has been spent on investments such as increasing outreach and providing more shelter space, which have ultimately proven to be ineffective and unable to pinpoint any root causes. – CROSSCUT

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According to a local study, Seattle’s crime rates have been on the rise, which has created issues of safety for members of the homeless community and beyond. Neighborhoods such as Fremont saw a 56 percent increase in total crime between 2017 and 2018, including four homicides. – SEATTLE TIMES

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One of the more seemingly obtainable solutions to reducing homelessness within King County is making it easier for people with addiction, mental illness or any other ailments to receive more immediate assistance. Some of the wait times for treatment can be up to a month, and for someone facing homelessness, it could be a life or death difference. The county has made attempts to make wait times shorter— some providers have even started taking same-day appointments to assess issues before they get worse. – SEATTLE TIMES

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The City of Seattle’s Navigation Team has begun to clear out homeless encampments that were once rife with crime and drug activity, including one that had a drug bust earlier this month. The Navigation Team, as well as other local outreach programs, have also removed thousands of pounds of trash and debris from homeless encampments. – KING 5

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine have been working to build a single point of contact to bridge the gap between the county and the city efforts to combat homelessness. While the joint effort has yet to be announced, Durkan and Constantine say the entity will unify preventative and emergency measures, oversee housing coordination and establish measurable metrics and milestones, among other tasks. – MY NORTHWEST

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The unofficial results of King County’s 2019 One Night Count concluded that 11,199 people are homeless countywide. Once the official results are released later this month, its findings are expected to show the county’s homeless population decreasing for the first time in over six years. – MY NORTHWEST

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If you’re looking to help solve homelessness in your own neighborhood, you can volunteer at an encampment. Long-time volunteers Damian and Debbie Monda offer tips for navigating homeless camps like a pro. – SEATTLE TIMES

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Nick Shekeryk has a professional background rich in digital marketing and media. His work has appeared in The Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, New York Post, The Post-Standard, and on MSN.com, among others. He has a graduate degree in journalism from Syracuse University, as well as creative writing and philosophy degrees from Seattle University. He lives in Seattle, WA, and spends his spare time playing and coaching baseball, running half marathons, and seeing as much live music as possible. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @NickShekeryk.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside) and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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