Spotlight on a User: What’s Your Community’s PIT Count Plan?

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Agencies all across the state are working with individuals and families to help them find safe, secure housing. It is a driving force behind the work that many HMIS users do.  One very important part of this work is the federally-mandated Point-in-Time Count (PIT).  Like many agencies, Anoka County Community Social Services and Behavioral Health will be participating in the 2020 PIT Count on January 22nd.

Michele Reid from Anoka County Community Social Services and Behavioral Health plays a key role in the PIT count as the PIT Lead for Anoka County.  She describes her role as the PIT Lead: “I organize the community of volunteers, county staff and social service agencies, conduct the training, identify locations and answer questions/manage the day of! I clean up the data once it’s reported, to support ICA and SMAC in getting accurate information to HUD.  I also pull out the Anoka-specific data to assist in painting the picture for the County.” 

Michele shared some strategies she employs to engage participation: “Email communication to all County staff educating about the PIT – What, why and how it impacts the people we serve.  Anoka County sends out press releases educating the community and seeking volunteers. We send a blub for faith communities to put into their bulletins about 3 weeks before.  I create a website for the PIT (https://www.anokacounty.us/homelessness), post the training dates/online training and use sign-up genius as a way to have volunteers say when they can get trained, where they’d like to participate and what time works best for them. I engage community partners: Libraries, law enforcement, members of Heading Home Anoka Housing Collaborative to help spread the word.  Sharing and educating the 24-hour businesses – restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, parking lots Walmart, Cub, etc. stopping by and having 1:1 conversations with early morning managers, providing CE cards with the phone number on it for staff to share with those who come in. Ask for them to participate by allowing a volunteer or conducting the interview themselves. Invite those with lived experience to participate.  This year, newly, HHAHC will be partnering with Blaine PD and other law enforcement to open a warming shelter from 9pm – 1am on the evening of the 22nd into the 23rd.  There, people experiencing homelessness will have the opportunity to get a hot meal, seek medical attention for minor issues, get a HEP A/flu shot, and get connected up with community partners and resources.”

Michele highlights the importance of the PIT Count: “Every voice matters!  The folks who are experiencing homelessness…the people to do the surveys, the staff who work with folks day-to-day. Together we are committed to ending homelessness and together we do the best job possible to accurately reflect the state of our communities. Ask for support from your community, agency, and others. Get and be creative, you never know what could get sparked as a result.” 

We appreciate the hard work that Michele and everyone involved in the PIT Count do to make this a truly community-wide effort!