Food & Drink

Goal to End Homelessness Still Out of Reach

The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness turns 10

By Mandolin Brassaw January 26, 2015


This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of Seattle magazine.

On January 24, 2014, there were 3,123 people sleeping on the streets and more than 6,000 in shelters or transitional housing in King County.

When the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness conducts its One Night Count again in the chilly, dark hours of a January night*, that number probably won’t be smaller, despite the fact that 2015 marks a full decade since King County embarked on its Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. When it was launched in July 2005, the ambitious regional plan aimed to “confront the issues that cause homelessness” and expand housing and support services for those affected, and it was backed by a broad coalition composed of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United Way of King County and various government and religious groups.

Given the Sisyphean nature of the task, it’s not surprising that such a goal is still out of reach. There is some good news: The decade has seen an overall reduction in first-time homelessness. But on the brink of the decade milestone, Mayor Ed Murray formed an emergency task force to address homelessness during winter. And when this issue of Seattle magazine went to press in December, King County was set to act on a proposal to renew legislation allowing tent cities—originally conceived as a temporary measure—for another decade. The Ten-Year Plan looks like it may need another decade, too.

Update to this story: The One Night Count happened Thursday, January 22, and results from the count revealed 3,772 people in King County without shelter, which is a 21 percent increase from last year.


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