Submitted by City of Olympia
Results are in from the recent Point in Time (PIT) Count of Homeless People, also known as the annual Homeless Census. While great strides have been made in providing more housing, social services, and other resources, it appears that homelessness in Thurston County has increased significantly.
As shown on the 2018 Resource Utilization Progress Chart 2006-2018, 828 people were identified as homeless on the day of the PIT Homeless Census with 324 of those identified as living unsheltered. This represents a 43% increase since last year overall and constitutes the second highest count since the PIT Homeless Census began in 2006. All existing shelter and transitional housing resources are being used, with an average of more than 100% occupancy.
“The results of the latest census are extremely alarming, and indicate that we are in the midst of a major homeless and affordable housing crisis in our community,” said Schelli Slaughter, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Director. “This is going to take a coordinated response effort and more resources than we currently have. The record numbers of those living outdoors without safe, stable housing is a great public health and humanitarian concern, and we know that the problem is likely even larger than we were able to capture in this survey.”
The Annual Thurston County Homeless Census was conducted on January 25, 2018 as part of a nationwide “Point in Time” (PIT) Count of Homeless People” that determines who is homeless and why. This initial report presents the raw numbers of people found to be homeless during the PIT Homeless Census with a 3% margin of error. The final report will be released in May 2018 and will provide more detailed information on demographics, the causes of homelessness and an assessment of the resources available to help people find housing stability. The results of this annual Homeless Census will be used to chart the County’s progress in its soon to be released homeless housing plan.
Thurston County provided funding to contract with the City of Olympia to conduct the annual Homeless Census this year. Census volunteers and guides were used to provide resources to those in need and also to improve the accuracy of this year’s count. “Hundreds of volunteers, including nonprofits, individuals, staff, my fellow commissioners, and other elected officials worked together to make this year’s count a success. It was amazing and humbling to see so many people come together to support this effort and to see firsthand the magnitude of need in our community,” said Commissioner Bud Blake.
Background on the Thurston County Homeless Census
Once a year in January, all Washington counties conduct a “Point in Time” count of homeless persons as mandated by the State of Washington’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Act (RCW 43.185C.030).
The Act requires each County to “make every effort to count all homeless individuals living outdoors, in shelters, and in transitional housing, coordinated when reasonably feasible, with already existing homeless census projects including those funded in part by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance program.”
Locally, the results of this census are compiled into the County’s annual “Point in Time Count of Homeless Persons Report”, often referred to as the annual homeless census report. This homeless census report serves to:
- Provide an accurate count of homeless people, the causes of their homelessness, and other demographic information;
- Quantify needs based on numbers of homeless people, which in turn brings in federal and state dollars to provide homeless shelter, transitional housing and other services;
- Assess resources currently available; and
- Analyze needs and resource gaps to serve as the basis for local strategic responses to homelessness.
Census results are also reported to the state and federal governments to ensure a proportionate level of public funding for local shelters, transitional housing, and related supportive services. These numbers help to create the most accurate picture of homelessness throughout our state and across our nation. Locally, census results are shared with all community stakeholders— policy makers, funders, service providers, concerned citizens, and the homeless themselves.
For more information on the results of the 2018 PIT Homeless Census, please contact: Anna Schlecht, Homeless Census Coordinator, at email@example.com, or call 360-753-8183.