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Washington's Homeless Population Grew 3.5 Percent Last Year


Tarp-covered tents line a sidewalk beneath a highway and adjacent to downtown Seattle, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray revealed details of a proposed property-tax levy to raise $275 million over five years to fight homelessness.

Tarp-covered tents line a sidewalk beneath a highway and adjacent to downtown Seattle, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray revealed details of a proposed property-tax levy to raise $275 million over five years to fight homelessness.

Elaine Thompson/AP

Rough tallies of Washington’s homeless population showed an increase in the number of people living outdoors or in shelters and transitional housing, despite efforts to reduce homelessness.

The Seattle Times reports that surveys conducted in five of the six most populous counties in January showed a jump of 3.5 percent over last year. Especially troubling was a rise of 10 percent in the number of people sleeping on the streets or in tent encampments, from almost 8,500 in 2016 to more than 9,300 this year.

An additional 12,543 were counted in shelters and transitional housing.

Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the numbers “starkly demonstrate that while parts of the state are booming economically, the growth is not shared by everyone.”

One bright spot was a 25 percent decrease in Pierce County after two years of sharp increases.

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