WASHINGTON — — The homeless population in Washington State’s homeless shelter is a small one, according to the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services.
But it is still the highest rate in the nation, according a new analysis of homeless population data released Wednesday.
The homeless population is the total number of homeless individuals living in Washington state, the Department of Human Services said.
The department is projecting that it will be at least 6 percent of the total homeless population by 2020.
The rate is even higher in some metro areas, the department said.
In the metro area of Seattle, for example, the homeless population of the shelter is expected to reach over 14,000 by 2020, the highest of any U.S. city.
That is more than the population of a city of 1.4 million.
In Spokane, the total count is expected at 12,500.
The homeless are mostly men and women who live in poverty.
“The homeless are not a demographic that’s particularly happy with their lives in Washington, and so it is unfortunate,” said Kathy O’Malley, director of the Homeless Resource Center at the University of Washington.
“We need to focus on the people that are really in crisis, people who have serious health issues, people that don’t have a job.
It’s not a great time to be a homeless person.”
O’Malley said the homeless are at greater risk of contracting HIV, a disease that can be spread through sex.
The number of new cases of HIV in Washington has increased over the last few years.
More:Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Republican, said Wednesday that he believes that the city’s shelter population is under-resourced, and that a lack of funding could be a factor.
Murray said he will announce a new homeless shelter in downtown Seattle next week.
Murray has pledged to provide up to $1 million toward the costs of the new shelter, which will be called the Housing and Homeless Services Center.
He said he hopes to build the shelter within a few years and to begin the process of putting it into operation in December.
Murray and the state are already building a new shelter for homeless people, the Housing for People at the Washington Center for the Homeless.
The department is planning to create a dedicated housing section for homeless individuals who need housing but do not have an immediate place to live.
The new shelter will be a two-bed facility for people in their homes, according the department.
The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is also working on the first phase of a $1.9 million homelessness plan, which is aimed at improving mental health services for homeless adults in Washington.
The agency will help provide housing and services for the chronically homeless, as well as for those who are at increased risk for HIV or other conditions that could lead to homelessness.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be working on a homeless shelter program in Seattle that would include a transitional shelter for individuals with a mental health issue.