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 homeless public school students increased about 1.2% (21 students) between the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. The number of homeless students in the 2018-2019 school year increased in the Griffin, Tumwater, and Yelm School Districts and decreased in the North Thurston, Olympia, Rainier, and Rochester School Districts.
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.