Do We Really Know How Many Are Homeless?: An Analysis of the Point-In-Time Homelessness Count

Abstract

Schneider, M., Brisson, D., and Burnes, D. “Do We Really Know How Many Are Homeless?: An Analysis of the Point-In-Time Homelessness Count.”

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that every location in the country that receives funding conduct an annual Point-in-Time survey of every person experiencing homelessness that is sheltered and every other year for those who are unsheltered. Many locations use their Homelessness Management Information Service to provide data for this survey. However, despite many efforts to get a true census count of everyone, there is considerable debate about the overall accuracy of the PIT survey counts. This paper examines how three major cities, New York City, Houston, and Denver, conduct their PIT counts. There is a detailed description of how each city undertakes its count, and there are assessments of the accuracy of each count. Finally, the paper concludes with recommendations for how to improve the PIT count nationally.

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