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Why Can’t We Get an Accurate Count of the Homeless Population?

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On January 30th, I woke up before dawn to drive around East Oakland and count all the homeless people I could find.

I was one of the 600 volunteers who participated in the 2019 Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count for Alameda County, California. The PIT count is a nationwide effort to tally the number of unsheltered Americans living on the street on a single night in January. It began in 2003 and happens every two years. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to complete the count in order to receive federal funding for homeless programs.

“This data will help us understand who’s out there and what they’re going through, and design better services for them,” said Elaine de Coligny, executive director of EveryOneHome, the non-profit organization that is responsible for facilitating Alameda County’s (PIT) count.

Individual people are counted one by one, but EveryOneHome uses a multiplier to determine how many people might be living inside tents and vehicles. This multiplier comes from field research conducted by outreach workers. A separate count is held to tally Alameda County’s homeless youth, and an additional survey is also used to gather more demographic information for the county’s homeless population, such as health conditions, veteran status, and housing history. This data, along with the number of people counted on the street by volunteers, comprises the totals reported in the PIT count.





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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !