Majority of deaths among Seattle homeless population due to fentanyl overdose

The 310 deaths in King County, which includes the city of Seattle, jumped 65 percent from 2021 and skyrocketed past the previous record of 195 homeless deaths from 2018.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
A record 310 homeless people died in Washington’s most populous county in 2022, with over half the deaths being attributed to Fentanyl.

According to the Seattle Times, the 310 deaths in King County, which includes the city of Seattle, jumped 65 percent from 2021 and skyrocketed past the previous record of 195 homeless deaths from 2018. The outlet had previously downplayed drug use among the homeless population.

Though fentanyl-related overdoses accounted for over half of the deaths, many of the victims had a combination of fentanyl and other drugs such as meth or cocaine in their system, according to records from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. 

The drug problems have been well known to Seattle and King County for years. According to lawsuits filed in 2018 by the city and county against big pharma, over 80 percent of the people living on the streets have a substance abuse issue.

Additionally, the Medical Examiner’s Office reported that thirty-five people died from natural causes at an average age of 48, which is a much younger age than is typical.

Despite the city and county spending billions of dollars on homeless services and what they refer to as “harm reduction,” the agency reported that as of November, fentanyl was involved in 70 percent of all confirmed overdose deaths in the county in 2022 regardless of a person’s housing status.

In 2022, Seattle and King County Public Health distributed over 10,000 naloxone kits, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, and roughly 100,000 fentanyl test strips.

Eighteen homeless people were homicide victims, double the amount from 2021, and seven died from suicide.

An additional ten people died from hypothermia or exposure.

Last year’s annual point-in-time count in the county found that 13,368 people were living on the streets.

A recent Seattle Times article citing Seattle Council Member Andrew Lewis claimed “Tiny Homes” were a solution to the crisis. Yet over the weekend, a fentanyl user passed out and in so doing set her tiny home on fire at the Whittier Heights village. Her neighbor dragged her out and saved her life.

The village is operated by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and “was made by womxn, for womxn!” according to the organization’s website.

Though the organization claims that no drugs or alcohol are allowed in the Tiny Home villages, it has operated facilities that are “low barrier” to entry, which means residents can get away with using drugs and alcohol while living on the premises. Overdose deaths have been reported on the premises of properties that claim that the residents cannot use drugs and alcohol.

The failed model is still being replicated even after the high profile closure of the Lichton Springs low barrier encampment operated by LIHI closed in 2019. Ongoing crime regularly affected neighbors and businesses for years since the encampment opened.

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