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00000181-fa79-da89-a38d-fb7f2b910000KUOW is joining forces with other Seattle media outlets to highlight the homeless crisis in the city and region on Wednesday, June 29, 2017.The effort was modeled after a collaboration by more than 70 San Francisco outlets to focus a day of news attention on the issue and possible solutions.Read more about the Seattle project and check out our coverage below. Follow the city's coverage by using #SeaHomeless.HighlightsThe Jungle: an ongoing coverage project going into the notorious homeless encampment under Interstate 5.Ask Seattle's Homeless Community: KUOW is launching a Facebook group where anyone may ask a question about homelessness, but only people who have experienced it may answer. This was inspired by a recent event KUOW co-presented with Seattle Public Library and Real Change, where residents of the Jungle answered audience questions. No End In Sight: an award-winning investigative project from KUOW about King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Homelessness Surges In Seattle Area

The ranks of the homeless continue to swell in King County. An overnight count found 3,772 people living on the streets — a 21 percent increase since last January.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the county in the wee hours of Friday morning to take count of the region's rising homeless population.

The annual one-night counts organized by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness understate the true extent of homelessness in the region. They don't capture homeless people couch-surfing in someone else's home for the night or those who have managed to keep their overnight sleeping spots in bushes or elsewhere hidden from prying eyes.

This year's count does show 1,138 King County residents sleeping in their cars; 732 sleeping in tents and homemade structures; and 321 sleeping in doorways. The volunteer counters also came across 375 homeless people just walking around between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday morning.

Another 6,000 homeless people are estimated to have slept inside, in transitional housing for the homeless and in emergency shelters.

Homeless advocates say the region's response has fallen far behind the growing need.

Terrence Cohen has been finding shelter in the basement of Seattle City Hall for the past eight months. He said he moved to Seattle about a year ago because he heard there was a lot of work here.

"But all the jobs were fishing jobs up in Alaska," said Cohen, who is on disability for a spinal condition. "It's too physical for me."

While finding a job has been hard for Cohen, he said finding affordable housing is his main problem.

"It's very difficult to get into any kind of housing, unless you're alcoholic or drug addict," Cohen said. "I was on so many housing lists, it was ridiculous."

Cohen said he believes his situation will improve.

"Sometimes, you get frustrated because you're ready for things to happen right here, right now, to get off the streets, but at the same you have to take one step at a time," he said. 

[asset-images[{"caption": "Javier Chavez next to his hearth and home in Seattle's SODO district.", "fid": "114936", "style": "offset_left", "uri": "public://201501/IMG_0352.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan"}]]

Homeless Evictions

Javier Chavez has been spending his nights in a cardboard box next to the railroad tracks by Safeco Field. He said he moved to Seattle from California a year ago and has struggled to find work since.

"Maybe next month, I move to Yakima," he said. "Work in the fields."

Chavez and a friend staying in a second box next to his received an eviction notice this week that gave them 72 hours to leave.

I asked Chavez about his plans for the night.

“Pues buscar donde dormir," he said — he would look for a place to sleep.

Do you know where? I asked. He said he didn’t know.

City of Seattle policy is to do homeless evictions compassionately, by helping people about to be evicted from Seattle's many illegal camps find better places to live.

But Chavez said nobody offered him advice or connected him with social services.

He asked if I knew where he might sleep. “Tu sabes?” he asked.

Sorry, no, I said. I didn’t know either.

Year started with KUOW: 2009