The Increasing Homeless Population in WA


Bella Taylor, Student Life/News

The homeless population has been an increasing issue nationwide for a long time. However, it has reached astronomical numbers in the past three to four years. Washington State has been on the rise, with the homeless population primarily in the Seattle and King County areas. 

Washington’s unsheltered population has grown by 10% from 2020 to 2022, growing by 2,288 people. More than 70% of the population is from the Seattle area. The dominant homeless population is male and white, over 24 years of age. Aware of these chronic issues, the King County Department of Community and Human Services analyzed many homelessness data sources. This data showed an estimated 45,300 people experienced homelessness in 2019 and 40,800 in 2020. The most recent data showed that at least 53,500 people experienced homelessness in King County in 2022. Anne Marten, King County Regional Homelessness Authority, quotes, “That number is unacceptable.” 

Around 528,500 people experienced homelessness in the United States in 2022, a 0.3% increase from the last year. Washington showed extreme percentages, though the overall numbers are still smaller.

In Austin, Texas, the homeless population grew by 72% from 2015 to 2022, and in Phoenix, Arizona, data showed an increase of more than 60% over the past seven years. To compare, Seattle and King County had a 32% increase during this time. 

University of Washington professor, Gregg Colburn, said, “We’re still having a big issue in Washington and California, but there are other cities that are starting to see more pressures.” Colburn also co-wrote a book that used data to show how housing costs and availability are the most significant predictor of homelessness. He says, “We continue to not have sufficient housing for people with moderate to low incomes.” Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington still had a homeless crisis. 

So what can you do? There are many numbers you can call for assistance in anything financial, mental health, etc. Some numbers and resources to reach out to for help include: 

  • Aging and Long-Term Care – WA by County: 1-877-501-2233.
  • Department of Commerce: Emergency Shelter Assistance Program: 1-360-725-4000.
  • Washington Low Income Housing Alliance: 1-206-442-9455
  • Washington State Community Action Partners
  • HUD Continuum of Care Information


Patrick, A. (2023, March 28). ‘that number is unacceptable.’ WA’s homeless population is increasing. The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 28, 2023, from Washingtonians%20who,2022%20Annual%20 Homelessness%20Assessment%20 Report. 

Shelters and emergency housing: Washington State. / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2023, from