The Point-In-Time (PIT) Count is fast approaching. This year’s PIT night is January 23, 2019.This annual count of people experiencing homelessness involves HMIS users, ICA staff, CoC Coordinators, and volunteers.
This is a truly communal effort, as folks from around Minnesota in our sector work together to take a one-night snapshot of the state of homelessness, both sheltered and unsheltered.
What is the PIT Count?
The PIT is the annual count of all persons experiencing homelessness – sheltered and unsheltered – across the country.
On January 23 and in the days following, volunteers and others will administer surveys to count individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness or staying at non-HMIS participating agencies. HMIS data will be used to count individuals staying in HMIS-participating projects, including emergency shelter, temporary housing, and safe haven, on that night.
Which Agencies Participate?
Any agency that has an Emergency Shelter (ES), Safe Haven (SH), or Transitional Housing (TH) program is asked to participate, regardless of funding source or HMIS participation.
Who is Counted?
Individuals and families experiencing homelessness in ES, SH, and TH programs, and unsheltered homeless populations.
Where and How Does PIT Happen?
At the agency-level, for HMIS-participating programs, it’s business as usual. Just be sure to continue your thorough, complete, and timely data entry in HMIS. For agencies not participating in HMIS, you will need to complete a survey for each client and family served on that night.
The unsheltered count takes place a variety of ways, depending on geography, events, and organizations involved. At its core, the “count” is really a face-to-face survey with a person experiencing homelessness someplace not meant for habitation (e.g. a car, bus station, skyway) that takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. Most surveyors are volunteers.
The PIT Count is orchestrated by Continua of Care (CoC). Each CoC has a different methodology, so look to your CoC Coordinator for direction on volunteer coordination, outreach, and survey distribution. While each count is conducted a little differently, Minnesota coordinates statewide to ask the same set of survey questions.
ICA System Administrators will reach out to agencies in the weeks following PIT night to resolve any data quality issues. Final PIT count results are usually submitted to HUD in April.
Why a PIT Count?
This is a way to understand the impact we as a community are having on reducing and ending homelessness. Like a population census, while it isn’t feasible to count every single person experiencing homelessness in and out of shelter every day, counting on the same set of days year after year provides a snapshot for comparison over time.
This is an important part of the statewide plan to end homelessness, as consistent questions across the state, asked year after year, help us establish trend lines, watch for changes, and help better understand how to target resources. This data is used at all levels to inform policy and funding decisions.
So What Happened Last Year?
7,204 people were homeless in Minnesota on the night of the 2018 PIT count.
What Should I Do?
So glad you asked! It depends on where you sit:
HMIS ES and TH agencies: Be sure you have up-to-date data collection forms. If an individual or household is no longer being served by your project, please exit them out of your project in MNHMIS, preferably as soon as possible. You can use the Clients Exceeding Max Length of Stay report to help identify these clients. Conduct timely and complete data entry for everyone in your program on PIT night.
ES and TH agencies who do not participate in HMIS: Ensure your CoC Coordinator has your contact information and that you receive the 2019 PIT Count survey (either the paper version or PIT LIVE link). Staff up for the PIT night so you have capacity to administer the survey for everyone you serve that night.
Volunteers and folks who participate in the unsheltered count: Ensure your CoC Coordinator has your contact information and that you receive the 2019 PIT Count survey (either the paper version or PIT LIVE link). Watch the required training videos, dress warm, and turn in all your surveys promptly! For folks who compile the surveys, be sure to collect and enter them by the February 14th deadline.
Everyone should read through our Point-in-Time Count webpage at hmismn.org. After the PIT, we have a window of time to collect the data ensure it is correct, and submit it to HUD in early spring. We’ll give a few reminders along the way. As always, reach out with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.