The Opportunity Council and the Whatcom County Health Department recently published results of the 2019 Point-In-Time Count (PIT), an annual snapshot of homelessness in our community. This year’s results show the largest decrease in homelessness since 2012, with 16% fewer individuals living homeless than in 2018. Participants in the count cited eviction or loss of housing as the most common factor that contributed to their homelessness.
The decrease in homelessness in 2019 is in part attributable to the new 22 North supportive housing facility, expanded programming to support individuals facing homelessness, and the services provided by several local non-profit agencies who collectively helped 2,281 individuals in 2018 to find temporary or permanent housing, or financial assistance to prevent homelessness.
Five hundred and fifteen (515) households comprised of 700 individuals who spent the night homeless were counted in the January 2019 Point-In-Time Count. Of those:
Nearly half (47%) of the individuals identified as female, and the median age of all respondents was 37. Fifty-one (51) veterans were counted.
About one in five respondents had been homeless for more than a year, and approximately two out of three respondents last had a permanent residence in Whatcom County before becoming homeless. When asked what contributed to their lack of housing, participants identified eviction or loss of housing (identified by 43% of respondents), job loss or unemployment (31%), mental illness (27%), physical health or disability (22%), alcohol or substance abuse (22%), and domestic violence (22%) as the most common contributing factors.
The PIT Count Report also highlights elevated rates of homelessness for people of color, people with disabilities, people who have been institutionalized, and people that identify as LGBTQ.
The 2019 Whatcom County Point-In-Time Count took place during the week of January 21st. The count is conducted annually by volunteers in every county in the U.S. as required by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The PIT Count is widely acknowledged to be an undercount because participation is voluntary, some people experiencing homelessness cannot be located, and because the definition of homelessness excludes individuals, such as couch-surfers or doubled-up families, who don’t have a home. Still, the report highlights important components of homelessness in our community, and consistent surveying practices means that the results enable useful year to year comparisons.
The full 2019 PIT Count Report is available at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/41651/PIT2019
Contracted housing partners receiving Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) funding through Whatcom County Health Department. Please access updated CHG Mandatory Performance Measures from the Washington State Department of Commerce specific to Whatcom County using the link below:
Whatcom County Point in Time Count Reports
City of Bellingham Housing and Human Services
Northwest Youth Services
Whatcom Homeless Service Center