Fentanyl fuels record homeless deaths in Seattle area

A record 310 homeless people died in the Seattle area last year, highlighting the region’s struggle to house the thousands of people living on its streets.

The 310 deaths in King County surpassed the previous record of 195 homeless deaths set in 2018, the Seattle Times reported, and marked a 65% jump over 2021.

“That’s just appalling,” the paper quoted Chloe Gale, policy and strategy vice president for REACH, the largest homelessness outreach provider in Seattle, as saying.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said it underscores his administration’s urgent need to get more people indoors.

Fentanyl-related overdoses accounted for more than half of the deaths. Many people had a combination of fentanyl and other drugs such as meth or cocaine in their system, the paper reported, citing records from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Eighteen homeless people died by homicide, a number that more than doubled from 2021.

Thirty-five people died from natural causes at a much younger age than is typical. The average age of death for homeless people was 48, the medical examiner found.

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