The affordable housing system can’t reach out to your clients if it doesn’t know about them. The running theme of this blog is to provide you with information to advocate for more housing. If you have already contacted your local Continuum of Care (CoC) to meet its leaders you have made an excellent step forward. If you have not contacted your CoC yet, it’s time to act.
One night during the last ten days of January 2013 a critical event takes place in every community – this year’s Point In Time count (PIT). Every two years HUD requires an actual count of every person in a community who is homeless on a given date. HUD uses this number to determine trends in homelessness, success in reducing homelessness and how it should allocate funds.
HUD identifies the time frame for the count. The count is limited to a 24 hour period. Thus, local communities set a date for the specific 24 hour period during the last ten days of January.
Local Continuum of Care leaders also learn from this for local planning purposes. Each CoC must have a plan for implementing and reporting point in time counts. The information is broken down into three categories. People who are unsheltered homeless are living on the street. Sheltered homeless are people in a shelter, transitional housing and in a motel with a voucher. The third group is the easiest to count – all people in permanent housing who were homeless.
HUD identifies populations that must be identified specifically during the count. One group that it does not have to verify is whether homeless persons they meet that night are victims of domestic violence.
It is optional whether the local PIT will identify people as part of the group of domestic violence victims, whether sheltered or unsheltered.
Contact your CoC leaders and ask about the plan for this year’s PIT count. Find out the date and how you can help insure the count reaches as many homeless people as possible. PIT surveyors always need more information about where homeless people spend their time. You may be able to suggest survey sites they never considered. If you serve runaways, exploited children or throw away youth surveyors have a particularly difficult time locating such individuals, particularly within a given 24 hour time frame.
Be sure to ask for a copy of the PIT survey. If it does not specifically identify DV victims find out whether the PIT committee is willing to add that information.
The point in time count will quantify the needs of people who are chronically homeless, severely mentally ill, veterans, female veterans, chronic substance abusers and persons with HIVAids. Act now to make sure they count your clients.