SEATTLE -- A new homeless count for 2018 shows that there are more people living unsheltered in Seattle than ever before.
All Home, the organization that did the survey, says there are 12,112 people this year who are homeless in Seattle, compared with 11,643 in 2017.
All Home says these numbers are estimates at best and that the real number could be a lot higher.
But as of right now their 2018 count shows that 5,792 were sheltered and 6,320 were unsheltered.
That means there are 835 more people living unsheltered this year compared to last year.
Andrew Gonzalez is one of those people.
He says he’s been homeless for decades -- the last couple of years he’s been living on and off in a tent in Green Lake Park.
“I’m broken inside, it’s hard, it’s not easy,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez admits his drug habit is what caused him to end up on the streets.
“I have substance struggles, housing and unemployment eventually went away,” Gonzalez said.
He says social workers have reached out to him at least twice in the last year hoping to move him into a temporary shelter.
“I could have gotten housing the first two times right away, but I don’t want to do community living, the shelters, I don’t want to live with other people,” Gonzalez said.
After releasing the new homeless count, the people behind the information emphasized that a big reason for the increase in homelessness is the lack of affordable housing.
“The economy is booming and rents are rising fast along with that,” Kira Zylstra with All Home said.
Speak Out Seattle Co-Chairman John Wisdom disagrees with that logic.
“We have a strategy in Seattle that has created a welcoming environment for people to camp. We’ve allowed it to happen, we have council member who encourages camping in cars and parks and that gets out in the street. In Seattle we are going to tolerate people living in vehicles. In fact, we are going to fix their vehicles, we are going to pay their parking tickets,” Wisdom said.
Wisdom says affordable housing is just one small part of the solution. He says we need tougher city policies and stronger emphasis on drug rehab and mental health counseling.
But the question is, will Andrew take that help?
“I got to want it really bad inside myself. I got to want it really and want to be hungry for it,” Gonzalez said.
The city says their main problem is that there are simply not enough beds inside to give to the homeless.
But Andrew’s story shows it’s not that easy.
Not all homeless people are addicted to drugs and everyone has a different story. But Andrew’s story shows how difficult one case can be.