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Volunteers find 60 homeless people in Kent during One Night Count

Sixty homeless people were counted in Kent during the 34th annual One Night Count in King County during the early hours of Friday, Jan. 24.

Teams of volunteers with trained leaders are dispatched from 10 locations throughout the county to count every person they see outside overnight on one night in January, according to the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. Approximately 800 volunteers counted people trying to survive in cars, tents, by riding all night buses, waiting in hospital emergency rooms, or curling up in blankets under bridges or in doorways.

A total of 3,117 people in the county had no shelter. Volunteers counted 2,736 homeless people in 2013. Kent had 53 homeless counted in 2013 and 104 in 2012.

The homeless in Kent included 30 men and three women with the gender of the others unknown. Volunteers counted 19 homeless in vehicles, 12 walking around and 10 in doorways. The rest were found in structures, on benches, in parks, at bus stops and in bushes and alleys.

"This year’s count is an unmistakable call to action," said Coalition Executive Director Alison Eisinger about the countywide number. "As teams handed us their tally sheets, they described the people behind the numbers: a teenager sleeping in a doorway with a suitcase, a family size tent under the roadway with a stroller parked outside, a man who proudly showed off the garden he made around his campsite. Next Tuesday is Housing & Homelessness Day in our state capitol. We ask everyone to call their state lawmakers and urge them to fund housing, shelter, and services. There is no overstating the urgent need in our own backyards."

The primary purpose of the One Night Count is to document how many people lack basic shelter; it does not include those who are staying in shelters and transitional housing, who are counted separately. Many communities across the country participate in such "point-in-time" counts. The data inform elected officials and planners at all levels of government about the extent of homelessness in their community.

"It's heartening to see over 800 people take to the streets to count and raise awareness of their neighbors who have nowhere to sleep at night but a makeshift shelter, a bus, a frosty car," said Mark Putnam, director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, a regional collaborative of homelessness providers, advocates, and funders. "Tonight is an indicator of both the needs of the homeless in our community but also the compassion of our community. We serve more than 9,000 households a year in our shelter and transitional housing programs, and we need to do more to meet the needs of those still living outside."

For more information and how you can help the homeless, go to homelessinfo.org.

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