San Juan County homeless count declines

  • Tue Apr 3rd, 2018 2:29pm
  • Life

Submitted by San Juan County

The 2018 San Juan County Point-in-Time Homeless Count identified 120 people who have no stable place to live, a decrease from the 2017 count of 154. The decrease can be attributed to success in placing families into the housing by local service providers, as well as changing definitions of homelessness at the state level.

The first San Juan County count, conducted in 2005, counted 21 homeless or at risk of homelessness. The numbers have varied with an overall upward trend since then. The state-mandated count was conducted on Thursday, Jan. 25.

The count was initiated by the State of Washington in 2005 (RCW43.185C). The Washington State Department of Commerce oversees the count statewide.

Of the 120 people identified as having no stable place to live, 57 people, including children and disabled persons, were living in vehicles, in abandoned buildings, or in an RV or boat that lacked one of the following: drinking water, a restroom, heat, the ability to cook food or the ability to bathe. The remaining 63 were at risk of homelessness, in temporary, unstable living arrangements, often with friends or family.

In 2017, the count found 96 people homeless and 58 at risk of homelessness. The 2016 count found 58 homeless and 46 at risk of homelessness.

The one-night count is by definition variable and in San Juan County can fluctuate greatly from year to year. In past years, people living in substandard structures lacking amenities were included in the count. Due to changes in definitions at the Department of Commerce, these populations are now only counted if they are living in an RV or a boat.

Count organizers and volunteers worked with local family resource centers, food banks, churches, health care providers, senior centers, libraries, the sheriff’s office and many other community support service providers to conduct the count. Volunteer training was provided on all three major islands for the first time ever in 2018.

San Juan County Affordable Housing Coordinator Ryan Page extends to all the many volunteers involved in the count his sincerest thanks, with a special thanks to AmeriCorps Vista Member Abby Anderson for coordinating volunteers.

For more information, contact Page at ryanp@sanjuanco.com or call 360-370-0590.