January 23 is the fourth annual Count Us In day in King County.
In one 24-hour push, a brigade of County staffers and volunteers scours Seattle’s streets and shelters in search of YYA — that's county-speak for Youth and Young Adults. For the annual count, employees from our parks and public libraries are joined by volunteers from a range of local nonprofits, such as the Asian Counseling & Referral Service and Northwest Network & Queer Youth Space. The information they gather during this day- and night-long mobilization will help county officials get a better handle on how many homeless kids are out there, where they are and whether and how any of our current policies or programs is making a difference.
Last year’s tally was 776. And those homeless youth are spread throughout King County.
The graph below uses zip code data collected in 2013 by the Kirkland-based nonprofit Friends of Youth to convey the geographic sweep of the problem. This is by no means scientifc. Friends of Youth asks the homeless kids it serves to provide a zip code as part of its regular intake process. Kids tend to offer up the zip from "where they grew up," explains Friends of Youth president and CEO Terry Pottmeyer, "or from where they slept on the couch ... or outside the night before." But the zip codes tell a story nonetheless: Homelessness is not just a big city problem.