Thurston County Releases 2021 Preliminary Data for Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Census
OLYMPIA – Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) has released preliminary data for the 2021 Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Census. This preliminary data reflects the number of Thurston County residents experiencing unsheltered homelessness or staying in shelters or transitional housing programs.
PHSS conducted the PIT count on the night of January 28, 2021. Numbers from that count determined Thurston County had 1,145 people experiencing homelessness with more than half of the people counted experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The breakdown of the count is:
- 169 people stayed in transitional housing
- 337 people stayed in emergency shelters
- 639 people stayed in sanctioned and unsanctioned encampments, RVs or other vehicles, small structures, doorways, and other places not meant for human habitation
- Additionally, there were an estimated 121 individuals who stayed at local jails or hospitals, with no permanent address
Due to COVID-19 health concerns, the Washington State Department of Commerce, following the Office of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance, determined operationalizing an unsheltered PIT count this year was optional per region. PHSS determined the completion of an unsheltered PIT count would be beneficial for the purposes of data continuity and for recognizing population trends.
In previous years, data collection was accomplished through surveys. This year, because of the pandemic, people experiencing unsheltered homelessness were counted through volunteer observation by outreach professionals and with the assistance of houseless neighbors currently living in encampments. Since the data collection methodology changed this year, making comparisons in data to previous years needs to be done with caution. The data collected in the preliminary report for people living in shelters and transitional housing programs was reported to the County’s Homeless Management Information System.
"Thurston County is committed to addressing the homelessness crisis in our county, and we’re grateful to have an amazing and dedicated group of partners working together to make progress on this complex situation,” said PHSS Director, Schelli Slaughter. “The Point-in-Time census is an important tool to help us better understand the challenges those without stable housing are facing.”