What is the PIT Count?
The Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Count is an annual street and shelter count across the United States that collects information about the number of people experiencing homelessness during a given point in time. Each year the PIT Count is conducted by volunteers on one day in January across the US. The project includes a voluntary, self-identifying survey to identify the needs and characteristics of those experiencing homelessness. PIT Count results are submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) as a part of a national effort to identify the extent of homelessness across the country.
Why is it important?
The PIT Count is one of the only sources of data on homelessness. It provides the primary number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness across the States for that year. It also helps inform communities about how many people lack access to services like Emergency Shelters or Transitional Housing. This data is collected by Congress as part of the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR). Each year, the number of unsheltered individuals continues to rise, and efforts are being made to address the increase in homelessness. Potential factors that may contribute to the increase include improvement in PIT Count volunteer training and recruitment, change in emergency shelter capacity, and/ or rising housing costs in the region.
The PIT Count is a one-time snapshot of homelessness that is limited by weather conditions, number and training of volunteers, self-reported survey responses, and other factors. There are more people who experience homelessness over the course of the year than in any one given single 24-hour period. Each year, there is work toward improving the accuracy of the PIT Count. We are committed to using data from the PIT Count and the regional Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to understand more about the population experiencing homelessness in our community and providing solutions that will ensure an individual’s experience with homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
Though most individuals experiencing homelessness who are recorded in annual PIT Counts are sheltered, information tells us that there are many more people who are experiencing homelessness in the shadows. The “invisible” homeless demographic includes families and youth, who may be temporarily staying with family or friends, couch-surfing, or sleeping in cars during the evening. Folks who are experiencing homelessness may still hold jobs, be in school, or in a different location from where they sleep at night – meaning they may not be included in the annual PIT Count. We know that right now, there are 150 families on the wait list to get into emergency shelter in our own community. A mere snapshot of what homelessness looks like on a single night in our community, data from the PIT Count is intended to provide insight into a community’s homeless population and to identify gaps in services provided.
Source: Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care 2019 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count Report