Results indicate a 16.5 percent increase over last year
Results of the recent Homeless Point in Time Count indicate a 16.5 percent increase over last year in the number of people living unsheltered – out of doors or in a place not meant for habitation – and a nearly 8 percent decrease in the number of people living in shelters or temporary housing.
According to the 2024 count, 141 people surveyed were experiencing homelessness in Chelan and Douglas counties, meaning they were living out of doors, in a vehicle or RV, in an abandoned building or in a tent or other outdoor area not meant for habitation. This is an increase of 20 people from the 121 recorded unsheltered last year.
In addition, 341 people were recorded staying in emergency shelters – including the RV Safe Parks, transitional housing programs or in a hotel through an emergency hotel/motel voucher program. That number is down 27 people from last year.
“As decision makers, the PIT count provides invaluable information on how best to use available resources to address homelessness in our two counties to move the needle in a meaningful way,” said Douglas County Commissioner Marc Straub.
Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay added that the information comes at a good time.
“This is timely information, as the Chelan-Douglas Homeless Housing Task Force is now beginning work toward establishing priorities and projects for the next five years,” Overbay said. “Using the PIT Count numbers, our aim is to determine the root cause of homelessness in our area. Do we make a larger investment in low-cost tools, such as diversion monies, to help move unhoused people into permanent housing options quickly? Do we also need to create a centralized case management system that works with the region’s Coordinated Entry system to better track folks and give us real long-term answers and solutions? These numbers are only a snapshot in time of a larger, more complex issue we are trying to resolve.”
On Jan. 25, Chelan County and its community partners conducted the annual Homeless Point in Time Count across Chelan and Douglas counties, with resource events at Lighthouse Christian Ministries in Wenatchee. Twenty-two agencies participated, including Chelan Valley HOPE and Upper Valley MEND, which had events at their respective locations.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Washington State Commerce task communities annually with administering the survey to the unhoused population. The information gathered from people who are experiencing homelessness on the day of the event is used to demonstrate the need for homeless housing services in a community and across the nation.
The number of people surveyed is a combination of people who came to the planned events at the Lighthouse and people who were approached by outreach teams in Chelan and Douglas counties.
Surveys conducted by outreach teams aimed to collect a variety of demographic information, including how long someone has been without a permanent home, where they reside, where they are from, and whether or not they had been denied access to a shelter or would go to a shelter if available. Demographic questions included age, race, gender, veteran status, if children under 18 in the household and if they were fleeing domestic violence.
“Our outreach teams are strategically made of case managers and staff from the agencies that are working with the unhoused population,” said Amber Hallberg, Chelan County Housing Program coordinator and a coordinator of the event. “Staff members have already established relationships with people; they know how to find people who may be in more remote or hidden places. This community knowledge improves the data quality all around.”
More details of the information gathered is available here.
Photo above: Emily Snider of the Women Resource Center’s Housing and Supportive Services surveys a man in Wenatchee on Jan. 25 for the Homeless Point in Time Count.