March 5, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 10

News

Organizers of One Night Count adjust tally of homeless people

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH) modified its numbers for the One Night Count, a federally mandated annual survey that tallies how many people are living outdoors or in their cars.

SKCCH now says that volunteers found 3,123 people living in parked cars, sleeping in doorways or camping in greenbelts across King County early in the morning on Jan. 24. Initially, SKCCH reported that there were 3,117.

SKCCH Executive Director Alison Eisinger said that the initial figure counted 90 people in Renton, but volunteers actually found 96 people living outdoors there.

SKCCH did not announce the adjusted figure until February, to allow staff time to double check all the numbers.

More than 800 volunteers fan out across the county each January to do the count, and teams bring back sheets with their numbers for Eisinger and others to tally.

“The number of different sources of info on the night of the count was pretty intense,” Eisinger said in an email to Real Change. “So I guess I shouldn’t be upset about an adjustment of six, but I wish it hadn’t happened.”

Either way, the volunteers found the largest number of people living outdoors in the count’s 34-year history. In 2013, volunteers found 2,736. The updated figure is greater than the 2013 count by 387 people, or 14 percent.

The count does not include those people living in a shelter or in transitional housing, who are tallied separately. Volunteers searched in Seattle, 11 suburban cities, unincorporated King County and on Metro Night Owl buses.

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