Disparity of need is a way of life in Yakima County. Lower than average wages, higher than average unemployment, and double the state average in program dependency create the perfect storm for spiraling homelessness in the midst of agricultural abundance.
Living in Poverty
Yakima County stands out on the state map of Washington as a pocket of intense need. One in every four people here lives at or below poverty level. Forty-two percent of the county's population receivessome form of public assistance during the year. The county's median household income ranks 24th among the state's 39 counties. Themedian household income is $39,022 - almost 25 percent below the state average of $51,794. The number of people who go to area food banks is 80 percent greater than the state average (1,897 versus 1,051). The number of families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is more than double the state average - 123.65 per 1,000 in Yakima County compared with 63.92 for the state as a whole.
Yakima County also more than doubles the state average in youth and adult clients of state chemical dependency programs. Among youth, ages 10 - 17 years, 23.7 per 1,000 are clients of state funded chemical dependency programs compared with the state average of 11.09. Among adults, the rate is 23.11 per 1,000, compared with a state average of 11.83.
The Washington State Mental Health Division estimates more than 7,000 Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI) people living in Yakima County. Of this population, 160 have been identified as homeless.
To learn more about homelessness in Yakima County, use the links above.