Earlier this month, All Home King County released their annual “Count Us In” Report, which takes data from January’s “Point In Time” one-night homelessness count and combines it with survey data. Though a one-night count has many advantages as well as disadvantages, this report serves as the clearest data-based picture of homelessness in Seattle and King County at this time. It is often hard to capture how severe the public health and social crisis of homelessness is, and this report is a valuable tool and resource that begins to do just that.
Here at the Doorway Project, we immediately flipped to the “Youth and Young Adult” subpopulation section (page 69). We’d like to include some highlights from the report, as well as reflections on how the work of the Doorway Project can contribute towards the mission of effectively addressing youth homelessness in the U District, Seattle and King County.
Before diving into the numbers and what they mean, it is important to consider what this report is and is not saying. An organized, one-night count in January gives us a brief snapshot of the overall picture of who is experiencing homeless in Seattle and King County. The number of people experiencing homelessness is always fluctuating throughout the year, and a count in January is likely to be lower than a count in June. In addition to the seasonal cold that may drive more people to 'double-up' on couches or other temporary living spaces, factors like social stigma and institutional distrust among others can push the reported count down, compared to the “real number”, which we can never know exactly. So, the numbers in this report can be seen as a general guide, and a likely conservative “ballpark” estimate rather than a clear-cut amount.
Compared to last year’s 2017 Point-In-Time count, the 2018 number of Youth and Young Adults (people under 25 years old) increased by 1% totaling 1,518. Out of the total count of 12,112, youth and young adults made up more than 1 out of every 8 people. To widen our view a bit, it is important to remember that in both 2015 and 2016 this same count reported 824 youth and young adults, meaning this number has nearly doubled in the past two years.
Apart from the ‘blitz count’ that enrolled hundreds of volunteers and service providers throughout the city and county, All Home conducted a more detailed survey of 1,056 people, and 22% of whom were youth and young adults under 25 years old. This survey helps paint a more detailed picture that helps us begin to understand a bit more about who these youth and young adults are, and what their needs are.
The highlights in the report help identify some possible ways that the Doorway Project can serve as an important resource for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness:
2x the homlessness population rate of LGBTQ+
The Doorway Project will be queer- and trans-informed, and aware of the specific needs of these populations.
Nearly 3x the rate of experiencing pregnancy
Facilitating healthcare access, and providing education resources and support services
Nearly 2x higher rates of probation or parole
Providing legal-specific educational resources or services to young adults, to better help them navigate the legal system
Higher rates of psychiatric or mental health issues
Providing trauma-informed programming, support and services throughout the Doorway Project, as well as access to resources for mental health care
Identified issues of accessing services show the need for:
An easily located and easily navigable homeless youth service center
Assistance with getting basic identification cards and documents to better access other services, employment, education possibilities
As the Doorway Project enters Year 2, the University of Washington and its community partners will be developing an innovative youth-service delivery model that addresses the needs of the youth in the U District. Rest assured that we will be keeping this ‘Count Us In’ snapshot in our organizational back pocket as we develop a new way forward towards addressing youth homelessness. Many thanks to the All Home staff, the service guides and hundreds of volunteers who did the legwork and heartfelt community outreach to make this report possible. It serves as an orienting compass to everyone who is aiming to earnestly address the crisis of homelessness in our neighborhoods, cities and region.
To read the report (or the summary) yourself, visit: http://allhomekc.org/king-county-point-in-time-pit-count/#reports