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I wish to inform Mr. Payne that his statement, “The idea that people who are homeless come to Olympia because of our compassionate approach is a myth. Homeless census data routinely reveals that most of the people experiencing homelessness in our community were last housed in Thurston County” does not comport with facts and logic.

I offer evidence from the Thurston County 2019 Point in Time Homeless Census Report which represents the most recent data about where the homeless come from.

In the section presenting information about the “Last Known Address”, the Thurston PITI shows 50% came from outside of Thurston County. The report then goes on to state,

“This data suggests that limited choices for services in rural areas can drive homeless people into areas with more available help in a concentrated area. In a dynamic repeated across the country, homeless people from small towns and rural areas are forced to migrate to areas with higher concentrations of services, shelter and transitional housing.”

That finding was also consistent with the 2018 PITI Survey.

I also offer a recent Seattle Times article on the same topic, “Where do county’s homeless residents come from?” from July 6, 2023. They present a chart showing comparisons among major homeless population centers and tellingly, they include Olympia. And more tellingly, it shows that Olympia had a higher proportion of homeless who lived out of state or out of county than Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Yes, it is logical that people with needs will go to where they are more likely to get those needs met and be more welcomed.

I hope this information helps inform Mr. Payne about what is and what is not a myth.

Disturbingly, what does it say when that question is no longer asked (or at least reported) in the surveys? I suppose if one wants to persist in believing in their own myths one might wish to stop asking for inconvenient facts.

Policy making should endeavor to be based on the best avalaible facts, no matter how inconvenient they may be.

From: Candidates for Olympia Mayor present their ideas about homelessness

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