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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.

Hundreds Of Homeless People Seek Help In Everett

KUOW Photo/John Ryan
Homeless Army veteran Marvin Stanfield gets a free haircut from Adam Nolin of the Paroba College of Cosmetology.

One day a year, it's a lot easier for homeless people in Snohomish County to get some basic things that you might take for granted. Things like shoes, backpacks or pet care.  

More than a thousand people lined up outside an elementary school in Everett on Thursday to get a little help.

Steph Stark and her sister came down from Stanwood at the north end of the county. Stark has been living in a tent along the Stillaguamish River.

"I'm having my hair cut," Stark said. "It's a blessing."

And how long had it been since her last haircut? "At least four years."

After her cut, she was going to get some new glasses.

United Way officials say their one-day event helps alleviate suffering but broader efforts are needed to address the root causes of homelessness. Stark and others flooding into the event say they see more homelessness than ever in Snohomish County.

"Oh, there's a lot more people and a lot more families," she said. "That's the sad thing."

Jason Knowles of Everett sees it similarly.

"Seems to be the worst I've ever seen it, honestly, as far as the amount of homelessness," said Knowles, who got out of jail a few weeks ago and has been staying at the Everett Gospel Mission shelter.

But county officials say fewer people, not more, are living on the streets and in the woods of Snohomish County.

"We've seen significant declines in family homelessness in particular and in veteran homelessness," said M.J. Brell-Vujovic, who heads the county's human services department.

Nobody really knows how many people are homeless in Snohomish County, or anywhere else.

Around the country, volunteers try to count the homeless on one night each January. They miss a lot of people who don't want their camps to be found or counted. And some years might get more volunteers pulling those all-nighters than other years.

Still, Snohomish County appears to be doing a lot better than King County. The one-night counts show homelessness increasing sharply in King County.

In both counties, homeless shelters turn people away each night. 

"Our shelters are still operating at capacity," said Snohomish County's Brell-Vujovic. "So there's still a huge unmet need."

Year started with KUOW: 2009