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Pierce County sees jump in homelessness; joins King County in worsening crisis

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(The Center Square) – The latest count of homeless people in Pierce County signals an increasing number of unhoused people in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area.

Pierce County conducted its annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count of sheltered and unsheltered people throughout the region on Jan. 26. The results revealed a 23% increase of people experiencing homelessness in Pierce County, with 2,661.

Out of the 2,661 homeless people tallied, 1,445 (54%) were sheltered. Last year, there were 1,385 homeless people counted as being sheltered at the time of the PIT count.

However, the number of people living without shelter in Pierce County jumped 59.4% from 763 in 2023 to 1,216 in 2024.

“The 2024 PIT count validates what we all see in our communities; despite efforts by Pierce County, local cities and towns, and our strong community of service providers, we continue to see a rise in homelessness in Pierce County,” Pierce County Human Services Director Heather Moss said in a statement. “We continue to fund programs across the spectrum of interventions from prevention to permanent housing to address this important issue.”

Neighboring King County’s 2024 PIT count showed a 22.6% increase in homelessness from its last count in 2022. King County had 16,385 homeless people tallied throughout the region.

Combining both PIT counts from Washington’s two most populated counties brings the total number of homeless people in the Seattle-Tacoma region to 19,046 in 2024.

It is important to note that the PIT count is widely regarded as an undercount of the actual number of unhoused people within a certain area.

Pierce County dedicates roughly $185.4 million toward homelessness efforts as part of its 2024-2025 biennial budget.

Approximately $99.8 million in funding is distributed to service providers that increase the region’s affordable housing stock. According to the county, the number one cause reported for people becoming homeless changed from family crisis to a lack of affordable housing, reinforcing the need for different types of housing at all income levels.

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