The 2020 Thurston County homeless census found that 995 individuals were experiencing homelessness - living unsheltered or in emergency or transitional housing. This is a 24 percent increase over 2019 and is the highest count since the homeless census efforts began in 2006.
Approximately 54% of homeless individuals were unsheltered in 2020 compared to 49% in 2018. "Unsheltered" means living in places not meant for human habitation such as cars, tents, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, or on the street.
The number of public school students experiencing homelessness decreased about 59% (469 students) between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. This is in stark contrast to the 5.5% increase between the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. One factor that may have impacted this radical change is the state's moratorium on evictions established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most students who experience homelessness do so in a doubled-up situation. This means they share the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.
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 (OSPI). While the number of students experiencing homelessness does fluctuate throughout the year, OSPI reports the number on October 1st of each school year. Consequently, the total number of students that have experienced homelesseness at some point during the year is not reflected.