Homeless camp in Olympia parking lot.

OLYMPIA — Thurston Thrives and the City of Olympia will count Thurston County’s homeless people during the annual Point in Time census on Jan. 24.

“The most urgent area impacting our region’s overall health right now is housing stability: from the basic lack of supply, to working adults unable to afford rent, to homeless families and children sleeping in their cars at night,” Thurston Thrives officials stated on the agency’s website.

The Annual Point in Time Homeless Census is a way we learn who is homeless and why they are homeless in Thurston County, Thurston Thrives states.

The count was first pioneered by Olympia area service providers and soon thereafter adopted by the state as the singular annual measurement tool to help guide the investment of federal, state and local funding.

Each year in late January, service providers and volunteers use a confidential questionnaire to gather data, which is entered into a statewide database called the Homeless Management Information System to be tracked, analyzed and reported on. 

The total PIT homeless census number includes people who are:

• Unsheltered  living outdoors, in vehicles, in substandard buildings not fit for human habitation.

• Emergency shelter short-term 90-day accommodations, either dormitory style or in apartments.

• Transitional housing short-term housing, offering 18 months or less.

In 2018, 835 people were counted as homeless in Thurston County. It was a 56 percent increase, or 301 more people, than was counted in 2017.

The main causes of homelessness are related to economic and family stability, Thurston Thrives representatives said. The top four reasons for becoming homeless in 2018 were:

• Job loss, unemployment.

• Eviction, loss of housing.

• Family rejection.

• Domestic violence.

The group states that 59 percent of people said they lived in Thurston County before becoming homeless.

To volunteer, see https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K75M5X9.

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