As Bellevue has grown in population and transitioned into a more urban environment, homelessness, a nationwide issue, has become more visible here. Root causes of homelessness include lack of affordable housing, low-paying jobs, domestic violence, chronic health problems, substance abuse and mental health issues.
The city and the broader Eastside community have been working together to address homelessness for many years. The strategies and tactics used, designed to be both compassionate and pragmatic, include:
- Identifying risk factors to help prevent individuals from falling into homelessness
- Providing subsidized housing
- Leveraging community partnerships in hosting rotating shelters
The goal is to prevent homelessness if possible and, when it does occur, to transition individuals back into stable housing as soon as possible.
For years the Coalition on Homelessness led a “One Night Count” of people who are homeless and sleeping outside. In 2010, 141 individuals were recorded as unsheltered during the annual count.
The most recent total in 2018, now known as “Count Us In,” recorded 393 individuals (East County region was expanded to also include Issaquah and Sammamish). In 2017 that number was 319, marking a 6 percent increase. The 2016 tally was 245.
Since there were significant changes in count methodology for the 2016 Point-In-Time Count, caution is advised in noting trends from previous years. 2017 establishes a new baseline for homelessness statistics for King County.
Do you need help?
Visit our resource page for individuals and families in need.
Reporting and Unauthorized Encampments
As in past years, the Congregations for the Homeless’ men’s emergency winter shelter will close for the season on May 1. The city is currently working with partners on a year-round shelter and critical improvements needed to realize this at the Lincoln Center site will be constructed this summer.
Due to a gap in time where a shelter will be unavailable and the warmer weather, shelter clients and homeless individuals will likely be more visible in the community. If you are concerned about a potential unauthorized encampment, please report it via:
Police non-emergency line at 425-577-5656
If you feel unsafe or immediately threatened, please call 911.
Bellevue has a compassionate enforcement approach to those experiencing homelessness. When the city is notified of an unlawful encampment, or someone that may need shelter or services, we use a team-based approach. This team includes an outreach worker, who directly connects individuals with the resources they need.
If individuals continue to violate local ordinances, the city will take the necessary enforcement steps to remove property. This process may several weeks to ensure that everyone involved is safe and legal requirements are met.