Homeless count yields mixed results

Families and veteran counts down, total number up

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 11 a.m.

Homelessness among families and veterans decreased over the past year while the total individual count rose during the same period, according to the annual one-night snapshot Point-In-Time Count conducted by the Spokane Regional Continuums of Care.

A census taken on January 23 counted 146 homeless families, a 4 percent decrease from the previous year. The finding continued a four-year trend of fewer homeless families, representing a 47 percent aggregate drop since 2011. Homelessness among veterans also decreased to 85 this year, down 36 percent since last year.

“We have worked hard to direct resources where they are needed most and provide assistance in a coordinated manner,” said Jerrie Allard, director of the City’s Community, Housing & Human Services department. “Those investments have helped us make gains with families and veterans, although we recognize there is still much work to do to end homelessness in Spokane.”

Total homeless persons counted increased to 1,149 last year, a 12 percent jump over the previous year, ending a three-year downward trend. That included 155 unsheltered persons, a 158 percent increase over the 60 unsheltered persons counted in 2013. The highest number of unsheltered persons counted in the last six years was 172 persons in 2010.

Other findings included:

  • 257 people experiencing severe mental illness, a 44 percent increase since last year. The number has increased each of the past two years.
  • 182 people with a chronic substance abuse condition, a 12 percent increase over the 162 counted the previous year. The number has increased each of the past two years.
  • 238 survivors of domestic violence—the highest number counted in any of the past six Point-in-Time Counts.
  • 151 chronically homeless individuals, a 76 percent increase over the 86 chronically homeless individuals counted in 2013. The highest number of chronically homeless individuals counted during the past six years was 270 in 2009.

Spokane Mayor David Condon combined the Community Development and Human Services departments during his first year in office to emphasize the importance of housing our most vulnerable citizens and connecting them to supportive services to achieve housing stability. His goal was to ensure that federal, state and local grant funds to serve Spokane's extremely low to moderate income citizens were spent buying services.

Data gathered during the annual Point-In-Time Count is used to inform strategies to invest in low-barrier housing to serve those most in need and reduce overall cost of services, and end long-term veteran and family homelessness by 2018. The City is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Washington State Department of Commerce to submit an annual regional homelessness census.

Spokane’s first homelessness census was conducted in January 2006. That census counted 1,592 homeless participants.