What is the Point-In-Time Count?

On a recent below-freezing morning in January, many people were just waking up for the day at about 6:00 a.m. At the same time, VOADV staff and other Continuum of Cares all over the state were outside, ready to begin the day’s work that weeks of planning had gone into – the Point-in-Time (PIT) Count.

Point-in-Time is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people who are experiencing homelessness on a single night in a given community. Required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, counts are carried out by staff of organizations like VOADV, as well as volunteers, to learn the specific needs and demographics of people experiencing homelessness.

Through both a report of shelter residents and going out into the community with surveys, Point-in-Time shows a “snapshot” of those experiencing homelessness on a single night. It also gathers characteristics such as the prevalence of homelessness among families, youth, veterans, as well as individuals considered chronically homeless. The surveys typically ask how long they’ve been experiencing homelessness and give the individual an opportunity to express their needs.

So, why is this information necessary – and important? VOADV’s mission refers to “outcome-driven assistance programs,” and these programs are designed to assist our communities’ most vulnerable populations. The Point-in-Time Count is a valuable opportunity to gain firsthand information on who those experiencing homelessness are and what they need. It also gives us the opportunity to offer immediate, direct services by meeting individuals where they are – the entire goal of our IMPACT Initiative.