Addressing Homelessness

HSD's Homeless Strategy and Investment (HSI) Division focuses on assisting people in securing permanent housing to end their experiences of homelessness. Services are provided in three investment areas-prevention, emergency response, and housing-whereby service providers assist people who are at imminent risk of falling into homelessness or who are living without housing.

The Navigation Team is comprised of specially-trained police officers, field coordinators, and contracted outreach workers. As part of the City's emergency response, they work closely with other City departments-such as Parks, Utilities, and Fire-to ensure people living in homeless encampments receive the outreach, care, and connections to shelters they need to find a path to stable housing, and to remove unsafe encampments found on public rights-of-way, sidewalks, and in parks. .

Who is living homeless in Seattle?

The 2019 Count Us In annual Point in Time (PIT) count for Seattle and King County, found a total of 11,199 people experiencing homelessness countywide, including 5,971 people (53%) sheltered and 5,228 people (47%) unsheltered. While we continue our work to serve more people, more effectively, these numbers represent the first reduction in homelessness since 2012 for Seattle/King County - an overall decrease of eight percent compared to 2018, and a decrease of seventeen percent among the unsheltered population.

The full Count Us In report, released in May, included more detailed information on the results, including a sub-regional breakdown and a deeper analysis of the Count Us In survey responses. Here are just a few takeaways:

  • 2,451 individuals were in families with children
  • 1,089 individuals were unaccompanied youth and young adults
  • 830 individuals identified as veterans         
  • 2,147 individuals were living in vehicles
  • Homelessness disproportionately impacts people of color and people identifying as LGBTQ+

Homeless Youth

Photo of Camp Second Chance tiny house village in the Snow

How is the City addressing homelessness?

  • Seattle's policy framework for addressing homelessness is:
    • Person-centered service model
    • Invest in programs that effectively connect people to housing
    • Address racial disparities
  • To better connect people to permanent housing, the City changed the way it invests in the homeless services system. These changes were made in partnership with King County and United Way of King County.
  • Prevention, Emergency, and Housing are the three primary investment areas for the homeless services system
    • Prevention: Services to help people remain in their homes
    • Emergency: Services that provide safe spaces for people to stay, and a connection to housing
    • Housing: Services focused on permanent housing solutions including; rapid re-housing, diversion, and permanent supportive housing

Homeless Services System

Graphic showing 2018 Budget dollars spent by HSD addressing homelessness