Homelessness In Auburn: Addressing a Regional Issue Locally

Task Force on Homelessness

In November 2015, Mayor Nancy Backus convened a citizen task force to address homelessness in Auburn. This task force was comprised of community leaders, service providers, citizens, faith community, police and fire, school district, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, business owners and key city staff. The Task Force completed their work in April 2016 and presented a suggested action plan to the City Council on May 23, 2016. Learn more about the Task Force and the recommendations.

 A Complex Challenge

What we are seeing in Auburn is not unique. Across King County, Washington state, and nationally, we are seeing the sub-urbanization of poverty, as the poor are priced out of housing in urban centers. In Washington, decades of under-investment in mental health care, developmental disabilities services, and substance abuse treatment are translating into increasing homelessness. In King County, those systemic failures combined with an alarming increase in the cost of housing have further complicated an already complex challenge .

Key Highlights:

  • According to the 2019 All Home Count Us In point in time count held in January 2019, there are approximately 1,084 homeless adults in southwest King County (area includes Algona, Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Milton, Normandy Park, Pacific, Renton, SeaTac, Tukwila, Vashon Island, and unincorporated areas ). Up from 974 in 2018.
  • The Auburn School District reports that there are about 350 homeless students in the district.
  • Auburn's homeless population has increased over 20% since 2014.
  • Seventy percent (70%) of King County's homeless are in Seattle, 20% is in southwest King County.
  • A total of 11,199 individuals experiencing homelessness were counted on January 25, 2019. Forty-seven percent (47%) of the population was unsheltered, living on the street, in parks, encampments, vehicles, or other places not meant for human habitation. (Learn more about homelessness in King County)
2019 PIT Infographic

How Many Individuals Are Unsheltered in Auburn?

One Night Count Totals By Year 
One Night Count Total Demographics
Note: Beginning in 2017, King County ceased releasing counts for individual cities but by region. Auburn is located in the southwest region of King County.

Homeless Children & Youth

Each year data is collected by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) on homeless children and youth enrolled and served by districts in Washington State. This is the data reported regarding children and youth served by Auburn School District.

In Their Shoes

Auburn's unsheltered residents share their stories and speak about the challenges of rising out of homelessness.

Providing Resources

Cold Weather Shelter

During extreme winter weather, the City, in partnership with the Auburn Food Bank, provided an emergency cold weather shelter for individuals seeking a warm place to stay for the night from 2011-2016.
In 2017, the City of Auburn, in partnership with Valley Cities Mental Health, opened an overnight shelter. 

Ray of Hope Resource Center

Part of the Tasks Force's Summary of Recommendations is to be able to provide available resources for the homeless, the community and public and nonprofit service providers. In 2017, Auburn opened the Ray of Hope Resource Center day shelter to connect those experiencing homelessness to resources to move them off the streets and into jobs, treatment and housing. 

Getting Help

There are many resources in Auburn to assist those in need. The map below shows the majority of agencies that are providing these much needed services. Click on each point locator for more information on each agency.

Auburn Food Bank Demographics

Food insecurity effects people of all ages and all walks of life. This data from the Auburn Food Bank illustrates the breadth of individuals served over the past 12 months.

Low Income Housing Repair Program

The City of Auburn also offers low-income city residents grants for emergency home repairs. These grants, provided by the federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) help Auburn's low-income homeowners preserve and stay in safe and affordable housing. In 2018, the City of Auburn completed over 100 repair projects. Repairs included roof repairs, water heater replacements, leak repair and many other small projects to ensure safe and healthy living spaces for low income residents.

  The Geography of Homelessness

As different City Departments find encampment locations throughout the city, they use a mobile device to enter information about that camp so we are able to better track costs and locations. Using this tool we can also find hot spots throughout the City so we are able to identify areas to focus outreach and initiate cleanup. City staff spend approximately 100 hours a year identifying and cleaning encampment sites.

In Their Voice: KUOW Tells the Story of Auburn Encampments

KUOW tells the story of Auburn's homeless encampments

KOMO: Auburn homeless expected to do chores to earn their keep 

Ray of Hope works!