The 2017 Thurston County homeless census found that 579 individuals were homeless or lived in emergency or transitional housing. This total is significantly less than the 976 homeless individuals in 2010. Several reasons may account for the decline. Successful new housing resources, a stronger economy, changes in the census methodology, and non-cooperation of some homeless populations, among other factors, may have lowered the count of homeless individuals.
Of the homeless population, approximately 30% were unsheltered (or living in places not meant for human habitation such as cars, tents, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, or on the street) in 2017.
The number of homeless public school students increased about 10% (149 students) in the 2016-2017 school year after decreasing in the previous school year. The number of homeless students in the 2016-2017 school year increased in the Griffin, North Thurston, Olympia, Tenino, Tumwater, and Yelm School Districts, and decreased in the Rainier and Rochester School Districts.
Thurston County Homeless Census and Student Homelessness
Thurston County participates in a statewide annual "Point in Time Count of Homeless Persons" referred to as the "homeless census." This census helps determine the number of homeless people in the county, as well as the causes of their homelessness, and assists in developing a comprehensive strategic response to the issue.
School Districts report the number of students (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) that experience homelessness during the school year to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Sustainable Thurston Report Card
The Sustainable Thurston Report Card uses Thurston County's point-in-time homeless census to measure how well the Thurston region is doing at finding shelter for our homeless population. The benchmark includes two targets for doing so: reduce homelessness by 50% (to 220 people) between 2006 and 2015; and reduce homelessness in public schools by 50% (to 327 students) by 2015.