(The Center Square) – Pierce County Human Services has announced it will be awarding $17.7 million to homeless housing services to address the region’s worsening homeless crisis.

This funding directly supports two goals of the county’s Comprehensive Plan to End Homelessness. The goals are to meet the immediate needs of homeless people within the region, and expand the county’s permanent housing system.

The funding comes from a number of sources, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Washington State Department of Commerce, and local homeless document recording fees.

Homelessness statistics in Pierce County are at a record high. The county conducted its annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count of sheltered and unsheltered people throughout the region on Jan. 26. The results revealed a 23% increase of people experiencing homelessness in Pierce County, with 2,661.

Out of the 2,661 homeless people tallied, 1,445 – 54% – were sheltered. Last year, there were 1,385 homeless people counted as being sheltered at the time of the PIT count.

However, the number of people living without shelter in Pierce County jumped 59.4% from 763 in 2023 to 1,216 in 2024.

The region’s shelter capacity is not enough to meet the demand. According to the county, there are currently 1,318 units of shelter and 1,726 beds in various locations across Pierce County. However, the bulk of shelter beds are non-congregate and are located within the City of Tacoma.

Non-congregate shelter is the term used for emergency shelters that provide accommodations in a way that provides private space for guests.

The county is continuing to struggle finding a low-barrier homeless stability site outside of Tacoma to help homeless people elsewhere in the county find shelter.

This spring, Human Services received almost $20 million in requests for continued and expanded shelter capacity across the county, but its homeless housing program funding recommendations to the county council include only $6.5 million for shelter.

The $17.7 million in funding will go to homelessness outreach efforts, day shelters, safe parking programs, the expansion of overnight shelter capacity, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing.

The Rescue Mission is receiving the largest portion of awarded funding, with $1.4 million for its emergency services program.

The program assists unhoused people by providing overnight shelter accommodations, meals, clothing, and basic human needs. The program is anticipated to serve 1,628 households with the new funding.

The Center Square is a project of the 501(c)(3) Franklin News Foundation. We engage readers with essential news, data and analysis – delivered with velocity, frequency and consistency. If you would like to read the original article, click here.

More From Washington State News