According to those individuals experiencing homelessness who were surveyed in Pierce County, the three most frequently identified causes of their situation are the loss of a job, eviction or family break-up. These responses are included in this year’s Point-in-Time Count results.
“This year, volunteers counted 1,321 people who were experiencing homelessness,” said Tess Colby, the County’s manager of Housing, Homelessness and Community Development. Colby noted that while the overall number of people experiencing homelessness was down since the previous year’s count (1,762), many factors can contribute to fluctuations in count totals from year to year, including the number of volunteers participating, the weather on the day of the count and the time of day the volunteers are out in the community.
Mental illness is the most common disability reported by people surveyed. “Just over 30 percent of those who responded to the question about disabilities cited mental health-related issues,” Colby said.
While County residents may assume people experiencing homelessness are sleeping outdoors, only 22 percent of those surveyed spent the night in tents. The vast majority of people without permanent housing are residing in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, a car or an abandoned building.
Only 7 percent of people identifying a prior residence lived outside of the state of Washington, while nearly 80 percent were originally residents in Pierce County.
The Point-in-Time count occurs annually in January and relies on volunteers to count people experiencing homelessness throughout the County. The results of the survey from Jan. 27, 2017, are not scientific but do provide a snapshot into the lives of those experiencing homelessness on that day.
The full set of data is available here.