🏠 ‘A myth that won’t die’

🏠 ‘A myth that won’t die’

SKY HIGH NUMBERS. Are folks flocking to Seattle to access our city’s homeless services? Let’s let the data tell the story. Thanks for tagging #theevergrey, Kavya!


King County has the third largest homeless population in the our country, and is in its third year of a declared homelessness state of emergency. So: Is there an influx of homeless folks from outside Seattle coming to the city for its services? To begin to answer this question, let’s look at the data.

WHAT THE NUMBERS TELL US: There’s one report to rule them all when it comes to understanding homelessness in Seattle — All Home’s Count Us In point-in-time survey. This year’s snapshot, taken one night in late January, estimates there were 12,112 people experiencing homelessness across our county. That’s up from 11,643 last year.

DID THEY BECOME HOMELESS HERE? Yes, mostly. To be more specific: A large majority lost their housing while living in King County. A smaller majority lost their housing while living in Seattle. And there’s no evidence in the data of any recent spike in outsiders. Here’s what the numbers say:

  • About 83 percent of folks surveyed this year said they’d been living here in King County when they lost their housing. That’s up from 77 percent in 2017.
  • 52 percent of folks surveyed this year said they were living in Seattle when they became homeless. (The 2017 report didn’t ask that, so there’s nothing to compare it to yet.)
  • And in 2014, based on data shared by All Home on behalf of homeless services providers, 86 percent of people checked into services like shelters with ZIP codes from within King County’s borders — but those numbers are imprecise, The Seattle Times reported.

HOW MANY OF THEM ARE FROM HERE? Many of our houseless neighbors aren’t recent arrivals. In a survey this year, about a third said they were born or grew up in the county. An additional 21 percent said they’d lived in King County for more than a decade. And about 11 percent said they’d lived here for less than a year.

HOW MANY AREN’T? About 11 percent said they lived elsewhere in Washington State when they lost their housing. About 6 percent said they were from out of state.

WHY DO WE RELY ON ALL HOME’S REPORT FOR ALL THIS? In short, because it appears to be the best data set we have to understand the magnitude of the problem in our region.

Our annual point-in-time counts have always had their shortcomings. They rely on self-reported data, the current report goes back just a couple years (a prior, similar annual survey called the One Night Count tracked homelessness going back to the 1970s), and though they’ve evolved to become more comprehensive over time, there’s plenty they don’t ask. But these counts are — as far as we know — the only regularly updated public survey of locals experiencing homelessness that we have.

“No one else is doing a better version of the one-night count that we can choose from, and that’s really a product of the fact that this country has not done data analysis of people experiencing homelessness before 10 years ago,” said Eric Bronson, YWCA Seattle’s digital advocacy manager.

Kira Zylstra, acting director at All Home King County, cited the existence of “hidden homelessness” and people who don’t want to be counted.

“This is one source of data in our community and it’s not the full picture,” Kira told us. “No community has a 100 percent accurate method for counting individuals.”

WHAT DO ADVOCATES THINK of the claim that outsiders are flocking to Seattle? “It’s a myth that won’t die,” said Daniel Malone, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center.

» Why? Stay tuned for part 2 of our answer tomorrow. In the meantime…

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The Evergrey will be answering one new reader question about homelessness in Seattle in the coming weeks, and guess what? We won’t be the only ones. Crosscut, GeekWire, KUOW, Patch, ParentMap, Real Change, and Seattlepi.com will all be hearing and answering locals’ deep down honest questions in a collaborative project we hope can help make a difference.

Got a new question you’d like to see answered? » Go here to ask it » and any of these awesome local outlets might report out your answer. 👍

Big thanks to our partners — GeekWire, Crosscut, Seattlepi.com, Real Change, Patch, ParentMap, and KUOW for accepting our invite to join in this project; to Crosscut for coordinating #SeaHomeless day today; to Hearken for letting us use their tool for this collaborative local project; and to all of you for thinking and caring about your city.

Things to do

Check out this event from our advertiser, Pacific Science Center.

🍷 Outdoor Cocktail Party of the Summer Enjoy a night of dancing outside under PacSci's iconic arches with open bars, live DJs and VR tech at PacSci's annual cocktail party, Theory 2018!


🍳  Saturday: Give high-fives to local mentors at Big Brothers Big Sippers Brunch, a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound (Capitol Hill) — 🆕

💰  Wednesday, July 25: Get the basics on bookkeeping, local tax deadlines, and more at this Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)

🍸  Friday, July 27: Dance, drink, and discover at Theory, Pacific Science Center’s big summer bash. (Queen Anne)



🍴  Nom on local eats at Magnuson Park (Sand Point)
🍺  Cuddle with baby goats while sipping a beer (Ballard)
🎈  Eat, dance, and shop at JamFest (International District)
👋  Give a mega toast to Seattle with the biz crowd (Central District)
🍿  Bring your kids (and tissues) to Coco under the stars (Green Lake)


🎟  Don vintage duds at a drag show (Belltown)
🎈  Watch traditional dances at a Pow Wow (Magnolia)
🎶  Rock out at the Capitol Hill Block Party — through July 22 (Capitol Hill)


🎈  Fly your rainbow flag at Pride on the beach (West Seattle)
🍿  Celebrate Jurassic Park’s 25th al fresco (South Lake Union)
🎨  Take a tour of the murals brightening up the track (SoDo)
👋  Connect with youth mentors over brunch (Capitol Hill)
🍴  Munch on all the things at Bite of Seattle (Queen Anne)
👋  Say hey to neighbors and welcome a new urban farm (Rainier Beach)


🚗  Gawk at hundreds of cool cars at Wekfest (SoDo)
🏞  Frolic through lavender fields — through July 22 (Sequim)
🎨  Check out art and music from non-binary artists (Ravenna)
🎈  Hop on carnival rides and eat funnel cakes at the fair (Enumclaw)

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with an Evergrey membership. Is an event sold out? Hit reply to let us know and we’ll update the listing in tomorrow’s newsletter.


Congrats, Aarti Soni and laph8! You’ve each won a pair of tickets to Theory, Pacific Science Center’s big outdoor summer bash next Friday. 🙌

And hey — thanks to everyone who welcomed new subscribers to The Evergrey yesterday. You one of the newbies? Hit reply and say hello. We always love to hear from you.

Have a good one, all. — The Evergrey

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