Number of Individuals Homeless in Thurston County

Community, Safety, & Health

How are we Doing?

Baseline: 441 (2006)

Most Recent: 586 (2016)

Goal: Decrease by 1/2 by 2017 the baseline in 2006

Target: Decrease

Status: Red

Why is this indicator important?

Adequate and affordable housing is critical to a healthy community.  The Olympia Comprehensive Plan calls for affordable housing available for all income levels, including enough emergency, transitional and permanent housing for those who are homeless.  Homelessness negatively affects the health of individuals experiencing it, and the businesses and visitors to the streets and parks where homeless individuals live when no housing is available to them.  Increasing homelessness also tends to increase the cost of providing social, health and public safety services.

What influences this indicator?

Many factors influence the number of individuals who are homeless.  The national and regional economies affect the number of jobs and citizens' income levels, as well as the cost of housing and other living expenses.  When household costs exceed incomes, homelessness can increase.  Personal health issues and disabilities, and domestic violence, also strongly influence homelessness.  Availability of housing and social services are key influences, too.

What are we doing about this?

Olympia is a member of the Community Investment Partnership (CIP), along with partner local governments and agencies which pool resources to address basic health and human service needs in Thurston County.  This includes funding to address homelessness and affordable housing needs.

Olympia's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program invests in housing rehabilitation and acquisition projects to provide affordable housing and other services to homeless individuals and families.

In 2016, the City of Olympia proposed an Action Plan to Address Homelessness.  The Plan focuses on the regional issues and impacts (particularly in downtown) related to homelessness and the gap in housing affordable to households earning 50% or less of the county's median income.

The City is  participating in a pilot project sponsored by the Association of WA Cities to conduct a series of community conversations toward implementing the Action Plan to Address Homelessness.

How do we measure progress on this?

The annual point-in-time (PIT) census of homeless individuals is conducted by Thurston County each January.  It is conducted in collaboration with cities, housing and social service providers, homeless shelters, faith-based organizations, and other partners.  Our goal is to reduce the number of homeless individuals in the County.