People experiencing homelessness camping on Smith Avenue in Everett, Washington on March 11, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

People experiencing homelessness camping on Smith Avenue in Everett, Washington on March 11, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Homelessness in Snohomish County at highest since 2012, count finds

Volunteers around the county surveyed people in January, finding 101 more people than last year’s count.

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s unhoused population increased by an estimated 8.5% in the past year to its largest number since 2012, according to data released Wednesday.

Conducted in late January, the 2023 point-in-time count deployed 247 volunteers, as well as county officials and other agencies in partnership, to interview those living on the streets, in shelters or transitional housing. The annual count’s goal is to get a snapshot of the number of people without homes at a particular point in time.

Last year, 1,184 people were identified as unhoused in Snohomish County. The 2023 count found 1,285 people in 1,028 households in Snohomish County. The total count increased from last year by 101 people.

“Without a home, a person in recovery will struggle to stay clean, children cannot learn and reach their full potential, a single parent cannot pursue education and career pathways that will improve their family’s outlook, and veterans who have faithfully served our country will continue to suffer and die on our streets,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a press release.

So far this year, the count of people living in shelters decreased by 1% to a total of 594 people, while the unsheltered count increased by 18.3% to 691 people, according to county officials. The county’s cold weather shelters were not open on the night the count took place, which likely affected the results, officials said.

The increase in the homeless census comes after the county increased investments to address the crisis, according to county officials. The county purchased two motels to convert into 129 new units of emergency housing, partnered with nine cities on projects to expand access to shelter and other social services, increased behavioral health and substance use treatment capacity and authorized an affordable housing effort.

The PIT count is required to inform state and federal governments on the scale of homelessness, but it is an imperfect measure. People are only counted if they agree to be surveyed, meaning the number could be far below the actual total.

During the count this year, for example, Rita Jo Case, the regional director of housing services at Catholic Community Services, went to talk to a group of five people, and only one agreed to be surveyed.

Households with at least one adult and one child saw the greatest percentage increase in the last year, at 14.1% higher.

People experiencing chronic homelessness represented almost half of the total count. Throughout that rainy January day, volunteers would gather information from people who would talk.

“Out of the five of you,” a man named Leroy pointed out to a group of volunteers under an overpass, “I’d say three of you don’t make it out here. And everyone is one missed paycheck away from being here.”

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Everett
Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Patrick Kunz speaks during his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett gymnastics coach who spied on students sentenced to 6 months

Patrick Kunz, 47, pleaded guilty to charges of voyuerism and possession of child pornography last month.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Everett transgender mechanic alleges Boeing treated her ‘like a zoo animal’

For years, Boeing allowed toxicity “to fester and grow” at its Everett factory, according to Rachel Rasmussen, an employee from 1989 to 2024.

Monroe High School (Monroe School District)
Monroe High School teacher accused of sexual misconduct, put on leave

Few details were not available Thursday afternoon. Police were seeking information from the public.

Everett
After 10 months, police make arrest in fatal Everett shooting

Police believe Malik “Capone” Fulson killed Joseph Haderlie, 27, in April 2023 outside an apartment complex on Casino Road.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

Ryan Rafter appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to life in prison for murder of Everett father

In April 2022, Ryan Rafter, 42, shot Christopher Buck, 29, to death after breaking in to his home to steal drugs.

Marysville
Driver strikes, kills Marysville man who was crossing I-5 in Seattle

The man’s car had broken down near Mercer Street. Troopers reported that he was struck when he tried to cross the freeway.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Darrington woman stabbed, buried 5-year-old daughter

The woman reportedly told investigators she was hearing voices before she killed her young daughter on Valentine’s Day.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.