WENATCHEE — A new count of the homeless population in Chelan and Douglas counties shows higher numbers in the summer compared to winter.
A Point-in-Time Count conducted in the counties showed twice the number of individuals in vehicles or RVs and 47 more homeless individuals in East Wenatchee and Wenatchee during July 6-9 compared to a previous count taken on Jan. 28.
The two counts are not directly comparable, however, according to Wenatchee Housing Coordinator Oliver Crain.
“You’re assessing the situation under two different sets of circumstances,” he said. “We don’t have enough data yet about the summer trends. We’ll need to gather more to establish trends.”
One conclusion that can be drawn from the summer count is how homeless populations are distributed across the two counties. Both the summer and winter counts showed that about 98% of individuals experiencing homelessness are located in Wenatchee or East Wenatchee, said Crain.
The July count, which covered 13 communities, was the first time the counties had done a count during the summer. Unlike an annual count completed across the country each January in accordance with state and federal requirements, the summer count was a local initiative.
Crain said elected officials, community members and homeless service providers in Douglas and Chelan counties opted to do a summer count to better understand the needs of homeless individuals year round. Anecdotal information had suggested homeless services were used more during the summer and the recent count helps quantify that.
Crain added that as more summer counts are collected, it will be easier to understand whether homeless populations experience high and low points between seasons.
“It’s another data point that the counties and the cities can use when planning their responses and informing the community about the needs and the extent of homelessness,” Crain said.