Annual count shows uptick in homelessness in Snoqualmie Valley

More people are living unsheltered in the valley.

Results from the 2020 count of people experiencing homelessness in King County showed an increase in people living unsheltered in the Snoqualmie Valley.

The number of people living unsheltered increased to 167 this year, up from 99 in 2019, in the northeast portion of King County. This includes the cities of North Bend, Snoqualmie, Carnation, Duvall and Skykomish.

There were 61 homeless people in shelters this year during the count in northeast King County.

Countywide, 11,751 people were homeless, an increase from 11,199 in 2019. The count was conducted on the morning of Jan. 24, 2020. It marks a 5 percent increase over last year, when a major reduction in the annual count sparked optimism that perhaps the region had turned a corner in addressing homelessness.

In 2019, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the county had dropped 17 percent from the previous year. It was the first downward turn in seven years.

The count again found that Black, Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations were more significantly impacted by homelessness. While Black residents account for 7 percent of the county’s population, they represent 25 percent of people experiencing homelessness. Native Americans and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders each represent 1 percent of the county’s population, but comprise 15 percent and 4 percent of people experiencing homelessness, respectively.

Some 56 percent of unsheltered people countywide were male, 41 percent were female, 1 percent were transgender and 2 percent were gender non-conforming, according to the county.

Notably, there were 3,743 adults and children — comprising 1,190 families — who were homeless across the county. It’s a sharp increase from 2019, which saw 2,451 adults and children experiencing homelessness.

Veterans and unaccompanied youth saw reductions in the 2020 count. Both groups have declined in recent years.

But the number of people experiencing long-term, chronic homelessness jumped dramatically to 3,355 this year from 2,213 in 2019.

Twenty-one percent of people surveyed in the count had jobs. It’s a rate that has held steady since 2018. The loss of a job is the most commonly cited reason for homelessness, with 16 percent of people surveyed listing it, according to the county.

Alcohol or drug use is the second most cited reason at 11 percent, followed by mental health issues at 8 percent and inability to pay rent at 8 percent. More than half of people experiencing homelessness suffer from a psychiatric or emotional condition such as depression or schizophrenia.

The count was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic, which has isolated those experiencing homelessness in the Snoqualmie Valley. Critical resources like libraries have been shuttered, and homelessness service providers have had to scale back their operations to comply with social distancing guidelines.