PIT Census Counts 58 Homeless Individuals Living in Yelm, Surrounding Areas


Love Abounds Here recently carried out its annual Point in Time census (PIT) of the homeless population in Yelm and the surrounding areas.

The PIT census found 58 individuals who are experiencing homelessness who live in Yelm, Rainier, Roy or McKenna.

The PIT census also found that 85% of the area’s homeless population lived in one of the mentioned cities before becoming homeless. The population includes 25 women and 33 men.

The results of the census state 73% of all of the respondents lived on the streets for over a year. Eviction was listed as the cause of  homeless by 26% of the people surveyed, followed by 22% who cited family rejection as their cause.

The results showed 21% of the respondents listed job loss as their cause for becoming homeless, while 19% listed domestic violence. Behavioral issues were cited by 12% of the population.

According to the PIT census, one in five of the respondents deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and one in six deal with mental health problems. One in eight have physical disabilities, and one in six have chronic health problems.

The census found that one in eight respondents have a memory disability, while one in 10 have brain injuries.

It also found that over a dozen of the area’s homeless live on the streets, 22 live in their cars and 13 live in a recreational vehicle or boat.

At the time of the survey, four homeless individuals were in jail and several others didn’t answer the question, according to Love Abounds Here.

The census is organized by the Department of Commerce and the data is provided by all counties in Washington state, according to Love Abounds Here. The goal of the census is to quickly identify and engage all people who are experiencing homelessness under the state definition, through outreach and coordinated care.

The census definition of homelessness applies to people who lack stable, safe and functional housing. Those couch surfing with family and friends are not counted in the survey, but those living in tents, cars, or recreational vehicles without electricity, running water or sewer are counted.

Love Abounds Here volunteers Deb Larson and Suzie LeFurgey conduct the local PIT census.

LeFurgey, the founder of Love Abounds here, said the nonprofit organization has been working with homeless individuals in Yelm since 2012.

“Each year, our homeless population rises. In 2022, there were 56 houseless people in Yelm,” LeFurgey said. “Love Abounds Here assisted 21 of those people to find their way out of homelessness, yet we now have 58 living on our streets.”

Larson, the director of Love Abounds here, said the most obvious solution to eliminate homelessness is to increase affordable housing opportunities and provide supportive housing.

“We must provide better, more accessible health care services and mental health assistance from our community is also needed. None of the respondents to the survey wanted to become homeless,” Larson said. “While several may never choose to change their way of life, the majority want to get good jobs and have stability. The first step is getting housed because it’s hard to think beyond bare survival when you have no home.”

Two main purposes of the PIT census were listed in Love Abounds Here’s news release. The first purpose is to better understand how and why a person becomes homeless. The second is to understand how to best help those who deal with homelessness, which includes finding affordable housing or providing physical health care.

Each month, Love Abounds Here offers a resource fair at the Yelm Community Center. Those in need can get access to different services from Lacey, Tumwater and Olympia. They also provide outreach to aid those who need help getting an identification card, which the PIT census found is a problem for 24% of the area’s homeless population.

The resource fair is held in conjunction with the City of Yelm and other local nonprofit organizations. Love Abounds Here hopes to continue increasing the help they provide to the community through innovative ideas to create effective housing solutions.

“These are our people,” LeFurgey said. “We believe that everyone, regardless of their situation, deserves respect and dignity and we strive to provide food, shelter and assistance to find their way out of homelessness.”

Larson said if the area can pull together as a community, they can lift up the individuals and work together to end homelessness in the area.

LeFurgey shared a similar message.

“We call on our Yelm residents to help. We need financial donations, physical assistance at our resource fairs and warming center, and we need volunteers for outreach, transportation, and help getting IDs,” LeFurgey stated in the release. “If you have acreage with access to water and sewer, several of our homeless have RVs and vehicles and just need a safe place to park. Please consider sharing a small part of your property.”

To learn more about Love Abounds Here find them on Facebook or visit its website at www.loveaboundshere.com. People can also email them at info@loveaboundshere.com.

The organization said donations are gratefully accepted.