Homeless face the cold truth

Douglas Henness, a homeless Federal Way man who goes by Thadius, shows his campsite in a wooded area near Pacific Highway South in southern Federal Way. - Margo Horner/The Mirror
Douglas Henness, a homeless Federal Way man who goes by Thadius, shows his campsite in a wooded area near Pacific Highway South in southern Federal Way.
— image credit: Margo Horner/The Mirror


It’s three o’clock on Friday morning and most of Federal Way’s residents are bundled up in quilts and asleep in their beds.

Some though, are bundled up with newspapers in tents or sleeping in cars.

Ninety homeless people were counted in Federal Way last week during the annual One Night Count conducted by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. The coalition uses the count to better understand survival patterns of homeless people who sleep in public places, according to its Web site.

The count is likely to have only gotten a fraction of the homeless population, said Manuela Ginnett, housing program director at the Multi-Service Center in Federal Way. Many more homeless people stay overnight in shelters, motels, hospitals, jails or friends’ and families’ couches.

A lot of homeless people don’t want to be counted, said 72-year-old Douglas Henness, a homeless Federal Way man who goes by Thadius.

Many homeless are afraid of

being discovered. Some are afraid of the police.

Word about the count spread around the homeless community, and many opted to get a hotel for the night or spend the evening in a 24-hour diner, Thadius said.

Of those who were counted, most slept in vehicles. Owen, who requested that his last name not be used, is one of those who sleeps in his car. He’s been homeless about three weeks. Sometimes he parks in the Wal-Mart parking lot and other times he parks outside a local church.

Owen said he is unable to work because of health issues. He survives on about $300 a month in state welfare and food stamps. He became homeless after a man that he lived with died and the family sold the house. Owen said he hopes to someday purchase a single-wide trailer and live there.

Thadius, who has been homeless since 1992, sleeps in a tent in a wooded area in southern Federal Way. He said he chooses to be homeless because he wants to help other homeless people who are addicted to drugs. Thadius has been clean from heroin since 1974.

“Unfortunately, the crack has really taken over. It’s in every camp, every single one of them,” he said of the drug.

Thadius earns money for food and necessities by panhandling near The Crossings shopping center. He doesn’t need much money compared to those with expensive drug habits, he said. He hopes he can serve as a role model and help homeless drug addicts get clean.

“All you can do is try to set a good example and try to remain upbeat all the time,” he said.

In areas throughout King County, 2,482 homeless people were counted during the count on Jan. 25. Most were in Seattle. There was a 15 percent increase in homeless counted this year, according to a press release from the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.


Number of homeless people counted in the area last week:

Federal Way: 90

Kent: 65

Renton: 44

Auburn: 40

White Center: 58

Eastside: 153

North end: 34

Seattle: 1,976

Metro buses: 171

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