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Unsheltered homelessness up 37% in Pierce County

On Jan. 29, 2016, nearly 2,000 people in Pierce County were homeless.

Pierce County has seen a dramatic rise in homelessness over the last 12 months. Based on the 2016 Point in Time homelessness report released today, the number of people and families living outside, in cars or other places not meant for habitation has risen 37% since last year.

“This is clearly a sobering report,” said Doug Richardson, Pierce County Council Chair. “It is particularly upsetting to learn that so many of those who are homeless are without a home due to domestic violence. My colleagues on the Council and I intend to use the results from the gap analysis currently underway to determine more specific needs and a plan of action.”

Survey Highlights

  • 1,268 individuals are in shelters; 494 are unsheltered
  • 55% of homeless are single adults; 40% included family members and 5% are unaccompanied youth and young adults
  • Slightly more than half are male
  • Nearly one-quarter of the homeless surveyed are under 18
  • When asked their last permanent residence, less than 5% of the homeless had a home outside of Pierce County
  • Nearly 20% spent the night before the survey sleeping outside
  • The most common reason cited for homelessness was the desire to flee domestic violence

“Unfortunately, there is no one magic solution to ending homelessness,” said Pat McCarthy, Pierce County Executive. “However, we must use all of the funding sources we have available and all of our partnerships to shape a creative, regional approach to this crisis. We all have the same goal: to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.”

The full results of the survey may be found at www.piercecountywa.org/pointintime



The Point in Time survey was conducted by more than 200 trained volunteers during daylight hours.  Volunteers went to encampments, shelters, food banks, libraries, community centers and any other place where persons experiencing homelessness may be present. The process included a comprehensive interview that incorporated questions about family composition, length of time homeless, presence of disabling condition and the factors that contributed to their homeless crisis.


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