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New tally raises estimate of King County homeless youth


There are many more homeless children and young adults in King County than previous tallies have found, according to a new count out this month. The count found more than 140 children on the streets, in shelters or in unstable housing, and another 530 or so young adults 25 and under. Volunteers and social service agencies conducted the second annual one-night count in May, targeting homeless youth.

Lauren McGowan, Associate Director of Ending Homelessness at United Way of King County, says it shows broader economic troubles are pushing more young people out of stable housing.

“We all know that the recession has been really hard on young people. And we have developed a lot of different solutions to addressing homelessness, but we really haven’t focused in on the youth and young adult population until recent months,” McGowan said.

She’s referring to an action plan out last spring, produced by the United Way and other agencies. It calls, among other things, for better data, which is what this count is supposed to help address.

Undercounting Youth

Another one-night count, a bigger census of all homeless people that’s been going on for more than 30 years, last year found all of seven minors outside of shelters.

“But we know our agencies are serving way more than that,” McGowan said.

McGowan says the new, more focused tally is better, but still incomplete. She says it paints a clearer picture of who the young people are. For example, 55 percent are female, and 62 percent are people of color.

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