Catholic Community Services housing navigator Aaron King, right, talks with Kenny Marshall, 39, for the annual Point-in-Time Count on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Catholic Community Services housing navigator Aaron King, right, talks with Kenny Marshall, 39, for the annual Point-in-Time Count on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Homeless count strives for greater accuracy in annual census

Last year, Snohomish County recorded more homeless people than before, while using new methodology.

EVERETT — Kenny Marshall sat on a bed sheet in the dirt, below an overpass Thursday morning near the Everett waterfront.

He doesn’t usually stay there, he said, but he wanted to get out of the rain. He was surrounded by old tents and tarps. He was alone.

Around 10 a.m., he was greeted by two social workers and two police officers who climbed up the sandy slope to reach him. They wanted to ask him some questions for the annual Point-in-Time Count.

Hundreds of volunteers fan out around Snohomish County each January, to conduct a census of people who are homeless. This year’s count was held Thursday.

The volunteers ask a list of questions, including where people slept the night before, the last time they had housing and if they have any disabilities.

The information is confidential. The goal is to give an idea of homelessness in the county.

Marshall, 39, moved to Everett about five years ago from Austin, Texas.

“After both my daughters passed away I moved here,” he said. “On Christmas Day, my 5-year-old passed away, and three days later my 17-year-old passed away.”

He wanted a place to start over. He has been homeless nearly the entire time he’s lived here.

Marshall wants people to know not everyone experiencing homelessness is bad, and he wishes people were more kind on the street.

“We’re not all out here doing drugs and hurting people, we’re just in a bad situation,” he said.

Last year’s Point-in-Time Count found 1,116 people did not have a permanent home in Snohomish County. Of those, 406 were in emergency shelters, 111 were in transitional housing and 599 did not have shelter.

That number was higher than the previous year, by about 250 people. That’s because of instead of only counting people outside on one day, some took the survey while seeking social services on days around the big count, said Robin Hood, a program specialist for the Snohomish County Human Services Department.

“Our number looks bigger, but it’s more accurate,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”

Around sunrise Thursday, volunteers Amanda Jeffcott and Aaron King teamed up with Everett police officers Shane Nelson and Mike Bernardi.

Jeffcott works for Snohomish County, while King is with Catholic Community Services. Both are social workers who help people find housing.

They piled into an Everett Police Department SUV, first stopping on Smith Avenue near the Everett Gospel Mission.

Blankets hung on the fence. Crumpled soda cans and a bottle of ranch dressing littered the curb. Dozens of pigeons pecked at scraps on the sidewalk.

The entire block had been cleared the day before, Bernardi said.

Jeffcott and King asked questions for about 15 minutes. Then the group made their way toward I-5. Under the freeway, they found a young couple living in a six-person tent. The words “Bat Caves” were spray painted on a wall.

Bernardi called out and shined a flashlight toward the camp. A young man, 21, unzipped the tent and walked out barefoot in the dark, followed by a barefoot woman, 19.

They stood in front of the social workers, separated by a chainlink fence. Overhead the rumble of passing cars echoed in the shelter.

The couple planned to visit Cocoon House later that day. Jeffcott read questions from a script, and talked with the young woman in casual conversation. She said she was four months pregnant.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Karen Moore
Civil attorney appointed to be Snohomish County judge

Karen Moore is a former deputy prosecutor. She also has experience as a pro tem judge and commissioner.

Eastside Tire and Muffler on Avenue D in Snohomish burns early Wednesday. (Snohomish County Fire District 4) 20210512
Snohomish tire store erupts in flames

The fire at Eastside Tire and Muffler was reported early Wednesday morning.

No one hurt in Lake Bosworth house fire

Fire crews arrived at the scene to find a small home engulfed in flames. It was destroyed.

Two E. Coli cases in Snohomish County; one child hospitalized

Authorities linked the cases to an outbreak in King County, possibly stemming from fresh produce.

Crews contracted by the Washington State Department of Transportation for pavement work on the U.S. 2 bridge over the Pilchuck River are set to close one lane this weekend to replace and install expansion joints. (WSDOT)
U.S. 2 Pilchuck River bridge closure and work delayed

The Pilchuck River bridge east of Highway 9 was set to close to one lane this weekend.

Josh Otusanya, 27, former Lake Stevens high soccer star turned comedian, has 4.6 million followers on TikTok for his inspirational videos from his family's home. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
A funny local TikToker with 5M followers offers life hacks

Josh Otusanya, a Lake Stevens soccer star turned New York comedian, reinvented himself in his family’s basement.

Jeffrey Phebus is sentenced to over 31 years in prison for the murder of his wife Rebecca Phebus, on Monday, May 10, 2021, at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘No words’: Arlington man sentenced for killing wife at work

Jeffery Phebus, 61, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 31⅔ years in prison Monday.

Ron Detrick teaches his geometry class Wednesday morning at Lakewood Middle School in Marysville on May 12, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
For real, these Lakewood pupils are back in class full time

Elementary and middle school students there are getting in-person instruction five days a week.

Deborah Rumbaugh (left), Jay Jordan (center) and John Boyd are finalists for the Stanwood School District's superintendent position.
Finalists for Stanwood schools chief are coming to town

Each will visit the district this week to meet staff and take part in a virtual community forum.

Most Read