2022 Point-in-Time Count

What is a Point-in-Time Count?

How many people are currently homeless in the United States? How many of them are families, or veterans? The answers to these questions and more can be answered by point-in-time counts. A point-in-time count is an unduplicated count on a single day/night in January of the people in a community who are experiencing homelessness that includes both sheltered and unsheltered populations. Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally. Data for the PIT count are submitted to HUD.

Basics of the Count

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities receiving federal funds from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program conduct a count of all sheltered people in the last week of January annually. Electronic administrative records are used to enumerate people living in emergency shelters and transitional housing. Unsheltered counts are required every other year, although most communities conduct an unsheltered count annually. In an unsheltered counting effort, outreach workers and volunteers are organized to canvas Continuums of Care to enumerate the people who appear to be living in places not meant for human habitation. During these point-in-time counts, communities are required to identify whether a person is an individual, a member of a family unit, or an unaccompanied youth under the age of 18 or age 18 to 24. In addition, communities must identify if a person is chronically homeless, indicating long-term or repeated homelessness and the presence of a disability.

Why do we Count?

Point-in-time counts are important because they establish the dimensions of the problem of homelessness and help policymakers and program administrators track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness. Collecting data on homelessness and tracking progress can inform public opinion, increase public awareness, and attract resources that will lead to the eradication of the problem. HUD uses information from the local point-in-time counts, among other data sources, to inform Congress about the number of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. and the effectiveness of HUD’s programs and policies in decreasing those numbers.

On the local level, point-in-time counts help communities plan services and programs to appropriately address local needs, measure progress in decreasing homelessness, and identify strengths and gaps in a community’s current homelessness assistance system.

The point-in-time counts are not without limitations. There is a variation in count methodology year-to-year within and across communities. Unsheltered counts have more limitations than sheltered counts and there is more variation in the methodology. Point-in-time counts are, however, the only measure that enumerates people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in addition to those who are sheltered. And despite its flaws, the annual point-in-time counts results in the most reliable estimate of people experiencing homelessness in the United States from which progress can be measured.

What are We Doing in Light of COVID-19?

To maintain the health and safety of individuals performing the count and of individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Homeless Coalition of Polk County, Inc. and the CoC membership decided to forgo the unsheltered 2021 Point-in-Time Count. Therefore, we will be conducting a traditional unsheltered count in 2022, making a few adjustments to the usual methodology.

Who Counts?

To cover Polk County, we need at least 100 volunteers. We assemble teams (in advance) made up of experienced service providers and community volunteers to canvass Polk County in search of our unsheltered citizens. Each team is assigned a geographic location, such as North Lakeland, Bartow, Haines City, etc. Teams begin anywhere between 6am-8am. Once your team has counted/surveyed everyone in your assigned area you will be done!

Multiple training dates are available that go into greater detail about the purpose of the PIT and how to execute the survey. To sign-up for training, please choose a date from the list below and email Sherrita Denson at sherrita@polkhomeless.org, with your choice. Once you have done so, you will receive a link for the corresponding training date.

Training Dates (Mondays at 1 pm)
• November 15th
• December 6th
• December 13th
• January 10th

Training Dates (Wednesdays at 10 am)
• November 17th
• December 8th
• December 15th
• January 12th

2022 Point-in-Time Count
January 27, 2022

We hope you will join us!