our focus : ending homelessness

Ending Homelessness in King County

People become homeless for diverse reasons. Some have suffered abuse. Some have a mental illness. Some are haunted by going to war. Some are foster kids who never found a family. Others have simply suffered misfortune — losing a job, for example, on top of having a medical crisis.

United Way of King County believes that no one should suffer the nightmare of homelessness. So, together with our donors and volunteers, we’re working on multiple fronts. Most importantly, it’s working: Since 2009, the annual One Night Count of people homeless and on the streets is down 9% in King County.

  • New Research is helping us prevent youth from becoming homeless when they age out of foster care.
  • We support emergency shelter to get people off the street tonight.
  • For people suffering long-term homelessness, our strategy is “Housing First.” That means first getting people to safety and security. After stability returns, services like counseling, medical treatment, and job training follow. Since 2007, United Way’s Campaign to End Chronic Homelessness has helped create 1,786 units of permanent housing with supportive services.
  • For homeless families, we invest in housing together with child care and services like domestic violence counseling.


  • Seeing the homeless (video)—Father Stephen V. Sundborg, longtime advocate for homelessness solutions, gives his thoughts on our community’s progress in ending homelessness and talks about the importance of really seeing people in need.
  • Read stories of people overcoming homelessness with help from United Way and our partners.
  • Read about the strong progress in ending homelessness in King County and elsewhere in Washington in this August 2012 report from the state’s Department of Commerce.
  • Find out about our extraordinary Community Resource Exchange. It’s a periodic gathering of the services and resources needed by people experiencing homelessness – all in one place, all in one day, powered by volunteers.

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