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‘Solving homelessness is not rocket science’: Nonprofit service groups react to rise in numbers

SEATTLE -- The results of King County's one-day count of homeless people, taken back in January, found an estimated 12,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Seattle and King County.

About 6,300 of them were unsheltered -- living on the street or in parks or vehicles.

“You can’t walk outside this community and not think that there are a lot of people experiencing homelessness,” says Lauren McGowan of United Way.

McGowan says bright spots, like the reduction in homeless veterans, gives her hope that other areas can and will improve with time and resources.

“We know how to do this. Solving homelessness is not rocket science. It is about getting people into homes,” says McGowan.

The total number of homeless people grew 4 percent from last year, but the unsheltered population grew by 15 percent.

Anybody living in the greater Seattle area knows that homelessness is on the rise.

"You just you feel it,” says Terry Pallas, with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

He agrees affordable housing is the end goal, but he says the problem here isn’t resources -- it’s relationships.

“Oftentimes homelessness is tied to something that’s burned the bridges of relationship, whether it’s addiction, mental health, past trauma. So, first and foremost, we need to see people restored into relationship with community, with God and with themselves,” says Pallas.

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission's Search and Rescue team was on the streets Thursday night, like they are every night. And one group they are focused on is the people living in their cars. More than one quarter of the total homeless population is living in vehicles.

While it makes sense, it’s a safe place where you can lock the doors and feel protected, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission says we should be really concerned about this, because it also isolates people and makes it really hard for nonprofits to connect with them and provide any kind of services.

That is one area they are really trying to focus on moving forward.

There was a bit of good news in the new homeless numbers. There was a 31% decrease in the number of homeless veterans this year compared to last year.