2020 Point-in-Time Count

The 2020 Point-in-Time Count will be held the night of January 22nd, 2020.

Already know what the PIT Count is and how it works? Click the links below to jump to:

What is the Point-in-Time (PIT) Count?

The PIT Count is Minnesota’s annual count of all persons experiencing homelessness, in both sheltered and unsheltered situations. The PIT Count also happens nationwide every year and is required by HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

During the PIT Count there is a large-scale community-wide effort to identify folks experiencing homelessness that may not otherwise be counted, namely those that are unsheltered, or living on the street or in a place not meant for habitation (such as a car or abandoned building). In Minnesota, we also count those that are doubled up (which means they are “couch hopping” or temporarily staying with family or friends).

Why is it Important?

The PIT illuminates the impact we as a community are having on reducing and ending homelessness (similar to a census). While it isn’t feasible to count every single person experiencing homelessness every day, counting on the same set of days each year provides a snapshot for comparison over time. Consistent questions asked every year across the state help us examine trends, watch for changes, and help better understand how to target resources.

Here are some ways PIT data is used:

  • At a national level by HUD and other agencies that fund Homeless Services initiatives
  • At the state level to inform Minnesota’s statewide plan to prevent and end homelessness
  • By regions (each known as a Continuum of Care) and individual agencies to make plans for addressing homelessness
  • By the media and by research groups

Who is Involved in the PIT Count?

While it looks different from state to state and from region to region, in Minnesota, there is a large-scale collaboration that brings together lots of different stakeholders. This collaboration ensures that the count is coordinated, that it follows the directives required by HUD, and that there is a clear path for the data to be combined into one final count.

Shows the different groups that are involved in the PIT Count.

During the PIT Count, street outreach workers, agency staff, and volunteers survey those experiencing homelessness in unsheltered and doubled-up situations. The majority of the PIT Count data, however, comes from the data entered into Minnesota’s Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) by the Emergency Shelters, Transitional Housing programs, and Safe Haven programs that participate in HMIS. Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing programs that do not participate in HMIS (such as domestic violence shelters) also contribute data to the PIT Count.

How Do We Get the Numbers?

There are two counts – sheltered and unsheltered

There are two counts that make up the PIT Count in Minnesota and different groups that collect the data for each count:

  • A sheltered count for those experiencing homelessness who are in Emergency Shelters, Transitional Housing, or Safe Haven programs on the night of the PIT. The sheltered count includes data from agencies that participate in HMIS as well as data from non-HMIS projects (such as domestic violence projects).
  • An unsheltered and doubled-up count of those experiencing homelessness who are on the street, in a place not meant for habitation, or temporarily staying with friends or family. The unsheltered and doubled-up count is collected by street outreach teams, volunteer surveyors, school liaisons, and other community partners using a face-to-face survey.

Ways to administer the count

For Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, and Safe Haven agencies that participate in HMIS, the night of the PIT is business as usual! The data you enter into HMIS about the people your program served on the night of the PIT will be included in the final PIT Count.

For agencies with Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing programs that do not participate in HMIS, data may be collected through a face-to-face survey or (rarely) aggregate numbers. Each CoC will communicate with the non-HMIS agencies in their region to connect them with the PIT process.

The unsheltered and doubled-up count is collected through face-to-face surveys of folks experiencing homelessness.

After PIT night

After PIT night, data entry continues, and data review, compilation, and cleanup begins! ICA, CoC Coordinators, and local PIT leads will reach out to agencies to clarify answers and identify data cleanup needs. To get a final PIT Count that is as accurate as possible, we rely on all those who are participating in the count to be diligent about collecting and entering data correctly!

So, What Was the Final Count?

On the night of the 2019 PIT Count, 7,977 people in Minnesota experienced homelessness.

Preview image of the 2019 Statewide PIT results infographic
Click here to view a larger image

We’ll add the final 2020 PIT Count to this page once we have it, but for now you can take a closer look at the 2019 PIT data and the 2018 PIT data (the 2018 data includes breakdowns by CoC as well as statewide data). Want to explore your community’s PIT data even further? Check out the PIT Dashboard on ICA’s Data Portal.

What’s My Role?

I volunteered to help an agency survey people experiencing homelessness

To confirm your area’s local process and materials for PIT, reach out to your PIT contact.

You will likely attend a local training to learn the canvassing approach in your area, rehearse the survey questions a few times, then be on your way to conduct surveys. You’ll likely use the PIT paper survey, which will then be entered into PIT LIVE (a web-based tool for live data entry). With proper training and reliable internet, you may use PIT LIVE directly.

Find the resources you need under the “Surveyors” heading in the “Training Materials” section below. PIT LIVE, the PIT Paper Survey, and the PIT Observation Form can be found in the “Survey Materials” section below.

My agency participates in HMIS

If you are an Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, or Safe Haven program that participates in HMIS, your job is to enter complete and accurate data into HMIS like you usually do! Complete your data entry for PIT night as quickly and completely as possible, and watch for communications from your Regional System Administrators that contain any targeted data corrections needed. 

Remember: do NOT complete PIT LIVE. All of your data will be pulled from HMIS.

Find the resources you need to make those data corrections under the “HMIS Users” heading in the “Training Materials” section below. 

My agency has an Emergency Shelter or Transitional Housing program, but we don't enter data into HMIS

Thank you for your participation! We count on you to participate in this one-night count to understand the characteristics of folks served by your agencies. You should be in contact with your CoC Coordinator or PIT Lead for local instructions. You may participate in PIT by submitting aggregate data about the characteristics of who was in your program that night to the CoC Coordinator or you may have your staff complete paper surveys or PIT LIVE. If the latter, you will need to ensure you (and your staff) have read the surveyor instruction guide completely.

Find the resources you need under the “Non-HMIS Agencies” heading in the “Training Materials” section below. PIT LIVE and the PIT paper survey can be found in the “Survey Materials” section below.

I'm a CoC Coordinator or local PIT Lead

We appreciate the work that CoC Coordinators and PIT Leads do to provide the planning, training, and coordination that help to make Minnesota’s PIT Count a success! Before the PIT starts, CoC Coordinators will be providing guidance on the CoC’s PIT plan and on survey collection to PIT Leads and agencies. We also rely on CoC Coordinators to be in communication with any non-HMIS providers in your region about their participation in the PIT Count. PIT Leads – you’ll help to organize your community’s PIT plan, coordinate communication with agencies and surveyors in your community, and administer surveyor and volunteer training.

After the count happens, CoC Coordinators and PIT Leads will help to collect and submit completed surveys, then work on data review and corrections in conjunction with ICA and agencies.

Find the resources you need under the “CoC Coordinators and PIT Leads” heading in the “Training Materials” section below. PIT LIVE and the PIT paper survey can be found in the “Survey Materials” section below.

I work at a school that is helping with the PIT Count

Schools are important partners in the PIT Count. As a school liaison, you may participate in the count directly, or – in collaboration with the COC Coordinator – you may promote the count with the population you serve. At a statewide level, the focus for school-based participation in the PIT is only on individuals and families who meet the HUD definition of “homeless”. We recognize that this does not capture the entirety of student homelessness. Local PIT planning teams will issue further guidance, so please defer to your CoC Coordinator/local PIT Lead for further instructions.

Find the resources you need under the “Schools” heading in the “Training Materials” section below. PIT LIVE and the PIT paper survey can be found in the “Survey Materials” section below.

What’s ICA’s Role?

As the State System Administrator for HMIS in Minnesota, ICA is integrally involved with the PIT.  We provide resources, develop tools to collect the data, guide the statewide process, and work in coordination with local partners in each Continuum of Care to ensure the count is a smooth process for all involved AND that the numbers that result from the surveys are aggregated and submitted to HUD.

Training Materials

Surveyors

To confirm your area’s local process and materials for PIT, reach out to your PIT contact.

  • 2020 Surveyor Instruction Guide: Everyone involved in the Point-in-Time count should review this guide. Everyone who is directly involved in surveying persons experiencing homelessness on the PIT night, whether they are participating in the sheltered or unsheltered count, should be as familiar as possible with the guidance prior to surveying. It contains information to help surveyors navigate the PIT survey, from interviewing techniques to key terms they will encounter on the survey. This resource should also be incorporated into and reviewed in all local PIT training(s). On the night of the PIT, one instruction guide should be distributed to each surveyor.  
  • Household ID Quiz: Test your knowledge of the Household ID that is used on the PIT Survey. The Household ID helps us ensure that the people you survey can remain anonymous and are not counted twice.

HMIS Users

Remember: do NOT complete PIT LIVE. All of your data will be pulled from HMIS.

2020 PIT Data Corrections Guide: coming soon. Keep checking this page or watch for a news alert from ICA!

Non-HMIS Agencies

Please reach out to your CoC Coordinator or PIT Lead for local instructions.

  • 2020 Surveyor Instruction Guide: Everyone involved in the Point-in-Time count should review this guide. Everyone who is directly involved in surveying persons experiencing homelessness on the PIT night, whether they are participating in the sheltered or unsheltered count, should be as familiar as possible with the guidance prior to surveying. It contains information to help surveyors navigate the PIT survey, from interviewing techniques to key terms they will encounter on the survey. This resource should also be incorporated into and reviewed in all local PIT training(s). On the night of the PIT, one instruction guide should be distributed to each surveyor.  
  • Household ID Quiz: Test your knowledge of the Household ID that is used on the PIT Survey. The Household ID helps us ensure that the people you survey can remain anonymous and are not counted twice.

CoC Coordinators and PIT Leads

  • 2020 CoC and PIT Lead Administration Guide: This document is intended to be a near-comprehensive resource for the process, tools, and materials available to Continuum of Care Coordinators and local PIT leads in Minnesota.
  • Point-in-Time Data Review Training: From 2019, but still relevant! This is an in-depth orientation to the PIT data review process. By the end of this training you should have a detailed understanding of your role in the PIT data review process, project timeline, how to resolve data errors, how to submit aggregate data, and what tools your CoC should expect from ICA.
  • 2020 Surveyor Instruction Guide: Everyone involved in the Point-in-Time count should review this guide. Everyone who is directly involved in surveying persons experiencing homelessness on the PIT night, whether they are participating in the sheltered or unsheltered count, should be as familiar as possible with the guidance prior to surveying. It contains information to help surveyors navigate the PIT survey, from interviewing techniques to key terms they will encounter on the survey. This resource should also be incorporated into and reviewed in all local PIT training(s). On the night of the PIT, one instruction guide should be distributed to each surveyor.  

Schools

Local PIT planning teams will issue further guidance, so please defer to your CoC Coordinator/local PIT Lead for further instructions on how you will be conducting the count.

  • 2020 Surveyor Instruction Guide: Everyone involved in the Point-in-Time count should review this guide. Everyone who is directly involved in surveying persons experiencing homelessness on the PIT night, whether they are participating in the sheltered or unsheltered count, should be as familiar as possible with the guidance prior to surveying. It contains information to help surveyors navigate the PIT survey, from interviewing techniques to key terms they will encounter on the survey. This resource should also be incorporated into and reviewed in all local PIT training(s). On the night of the PIT, one instruction guide should be distributed to each surveyor.  
  • Household ID Quiz: Test your knowledge of the Household ID that is used on the PIT Survey. The Household ID helps us ensure that the people you survey can remain anonymous and are not counted twice.

Survey Materials

2020 PIT LIVE demo

2020 PIT Paper Survey

2020 PIT Survey One-pager 

2020 PIT Observation Tool

Additional Resources for CoC Coordinators and PIT Leads

https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5864/pit-count-volunteer-training-toolkit/

https://files.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/PIT-Count-Methodology-Guide.pdf

https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/hdx/

Find 2019 PIT materials here

Find 2018 PIT materials here