The 2019 Thurston County homeless census found that 800 individuals were homeless or lived in emergency or transitional housing. While this is a slight drop from 2018, it is still significantly higher than the 2017 census when 579 individuals were homeless or lived in emergency or transitional housing.
Approximately 49% of homeless individuals were unsheltered in 2019 compared to 38% 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 homeless public school students increased about 2.7% (45 students) between the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. The number of homeless students in the 2017-2018 school year increased in the Olympia, Rochester, Tumwater, and Yelm School Districts and decreased in the Griffin, North Thurston, and Tenino School Districts. The number of homeless students in the Rainier School District did not change.
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.