Thurston County releases 2022 homeless census data

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services released preliminary data Wednesday for its 2022 Point-in-Time Homeless Census.

This year, the point-in-time census counted 766 people experiencing homelessness. The data accounts for Thurston County residents who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness, staying in shelters or in transitional housing.

Annually, the point-in-time census is conducted on the fourth Thursday of January, but the COVID-19 omicron surge delayed the count by a month.

On Feb. 24, 56 people were staying in transitional housing and 294 were in emergency shelters.

416 people were staying in sanctioned or unsanctioned encampments, RVs and other vehicles, small structures and other places the county says are not meant for human habitation.

Compared to 2021, the county says that there has been a significant decrease in the number of homeless households counted. However, the 2021 census was based on observation alone, and no actual surveys were conducted.

The county used an “abbreviated” survey in 2022, and notes that many households declined to participate. Declining to participate, not being present at their camp or place of residence where surveys are conducted, and cold and freezing weather were all factors in the decreased data reported in 2022.