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New Point-in-Time Count reports 36% increase in Spokane County's homeless population

The 2023 Point-in-Time Count took place between Jan. 24 - 29 and counts both the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population throughout Spokane County.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash — Spokane's homeless population continues to grow.

Those were the findings from this year's Point-in Time (PIT) Count that were presented to the Spokane City Council Thursday.

This year's PIT count took place between Jan. 24 to 29 and counts both the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population throughout Spokane County.

“It's a pulse check on what's happening in the community. For providers, they can look at specific subpopulations of those they serve to see if there's an increase or decrease,” said Daniel Ramos III, who is the Community Management Information System administrator for the City of Spokane.

Now three months later, the results are out.

According to Ramos, Spokane County saw a 36% increase in just a year in the overall homeless population, growing from 1,757 in 2022 to almost 2,390 in 2023.

The sheltered count also grew from 934 in 2022 to 1435 in 2023, which is a 53% increase.

“This is where we saw the largest increases,” Ramos told council members during Thursday’s study session. “And this tracks pretty closely with the increase in beds during that time period."    

But, not every number went up. 

“One thing that was a bright spot this year was our chronic homeless number was down,” said Ramos.

He went on to say that category refers to anyone who’s been homeless for a year or more and is dealing with some type of disability, which can include not just physical and mental, but also substance and alcohol abuse.

“It was great to see that number go down.”

According to the PIT count, the top three reasons for homelessness they heard from those who were unsheltered were lack of affordable housing (20%), lack of family or support network (13%) and substance use (12%).

One thing that was new in this survey was if eviction was a primary reason for homelessness, which 7% said it was.

Ramos also said there's still more to be done with the PIT numbers, including working with Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University to try to figure out the reasons behind the increase.

He said they plan to release their story map update this summer.

City officials also said more PIT Count data will be posted on the city's website in the next month.

There was also another increase in the PIT count this year which had nothing to do with the county's homeless population. One hundred seventy volunteers helped with this year's survey compared to 100 volunteers last year.

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