Searching the streets: How many people are homeless in King County?

SEATTLE -- Teams of volunteers searched the streets overnight to determine how many people are homeless in King County. The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness  conducted a “One Night Count” early Friday morning and determined 4,505 people were without shelter.  Organizers say that's up 19% from last year.

“This is surely what an emergency looks like,” said Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness. “We’re grateful for the significant attention and increased resources Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine have put toward addressing recent rapid increases in homelessness. It is clear that this crisis affects our whole region and demands an unprecedented response.”

The annual count comes just days after two people were killed and three others injured at a homeless encampment known as “The Jungle.” Investigators believe Tuesday night’s shooting was related to "low-level drug dealing."

“They really stress that it should be a safe, respectful, and an accurate count. So nothing really changed from this year to previous years. Certainly, on people’s minds what happened and the tragedy that happened this week,” said Mark Putnam, Executive Director of All Home.

Last year, the One Night Count found a 21% increase in the number of people without shelter. In 2015, organizers reported 3,772 people did not have shelter in King County.

“We live in a very wealthy city, it’s educated, it’s liberal, and you wouldn’t think this would be the magnitude of the issue it is,” said Tonya Hoffman, volunteer.