Once the King County Regional Homelessness Authority learned that a count in 2022 was required, it had to pivot quickly. The typical way to count unsheltered homeless people, by walking around the entire county, is labor- and time-intensive. Zack Almquist, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, said he suggested to the Authority a new way to conduct this year’s Point-In-Time Count called “respondent-driven sampling.”
The idea, Almquist said, is to find the ratio of sheltered to unsheltered homeless people in King County. Then, from the total number of sheltered homeless people in the county, which is already tracked, they could extrapolate the unsheltered population.