Understanding Unsheltered Homelessness

Homelessness can happen to anyone, and the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic impacts have only intensified the crisis. 

In order to build a better response system, the Regional Homelessness Authority is conducting a research project to understand the current experience of living unsheltered and what barriers people face on the path to housing. 

The qualitative research plan was informed by a series of 12 design workshops with nearly 200 participants, including people with lived experience, human services planners and city staff from across all of our sub-regions (Seattle, North, East, and South King County), service providers, and KCRHA staff – many of whom have lived experience.

We are using a combination of methodologies, including Respondent Driven Sampling (sometimes called “Snowball” or “Wave” sampling), which allows us to reach people who may not be connected to social services, and the Multiple List Method (sometimes called “Capture Recapture”) which will be used by our statisticians to calculate an informed “Point-In-Time Count” of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, as required by the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development. 

We have set up interview hubs across King County, and have trained interviewers from KCRHA staff, outreach provider staff, and the Lived Experience Coalition. People experiencing homelessness who are interviewed are compensated for their time. 

This is truly an innovative and exciting project, and is part of our commitment to centering the voices of people with lived experience of homelessness. We will report our initial findings back to the community in May with a more comprehensive report coming later in the year.

Thank you for your support as we redesign our homelessness response system to be more coordinated, more equitable, and more effective at meeting the needs of all our neighbors.