Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States are experiencing homelessness living in shelters or on the streets — in tents, encampments or sheds.
One way the federal government measures homelessness is by counting people who are sleeping on the streets or in shelters on a given night, an event known as the Point-in-Time (PIT) count. The PIT Count is an annual, nationwide census that occurs during the last week of January. It helps communities gather information on the total number and key characteristics of individuals and households experiencing homelessness.
Why is the PIT Count Important?
PIT Count data informs federal policymakers and agencies about state and local needs through the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. This report is then shared via federal websites, national advocacy groups and media stories, informing public opinion about the state of homelessness both locally and nationally.
Communities that are unable to locate a large percentage of their homeless population during the PIT Count won’t have reliable estimates of homelessness or information about their demographics and needs. This makes it difficult to target resources to address specific needs for our community.
How does the PIT Count work?
The PIT Count includes surveys of sheltered and unsheltered adults and youth. Volunteers will go out to designated locations throughout Marion and Polk counties to conduct face-to-face interviews with thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the region. There will also be PIT Count events at several locations for people to connect with local resources and services.
Volunteers will use the Counting Us mobile app to conduct predetermined surveys that gather demographic information about people experiencing homelessness. HUD provides two different surveys to gather this information:
The sheltered count survey gathers information from individuals and households that stayed in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or safe havens on the night of the count.
The unsheltered count survey gathers information from individuals who were staying in their cars, encampments, buildings, doorways, or other places not meant for human habitation on the night of the count.
When is the PIT Count?
The January 2023 count will be conducted during daytime hours over three days – January 24, 25, and 28 – asking where the person being interviewed slept on the night of Monday, January 23.
How Can I Get Involved?
In preparation for the PIT Count, we ask members of the community to either volunteer, or contribute funds or goods to aid the event.
During the PIT Count we offer donated goods (such as warm clothing, blankets, and personal hygiene items) to provide necessities to people experiencing homelessness. These items also serve as incentives that encourage participation in the survey which leads to a more accurate count.
Last year, more than $30,000 worth of gloves, socks, blankets, tents, tarps, and other items were distributed during the PIT Count. This year we hope to reach even more people experiencing homelessness across the Marion-Polk region.
While you are doing your holiday shopping, consider picking up an extra pair of socks or gloves to donate to the cause.
United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley has graciously offered to collect and manage community contributions and is making space available in the organization’s Front Street warehouse to store donated goods until it is time to make distributions across the region.
Where: Drop off PIT items at the United Way on 455 Bliler Ave NE Salem location.
When: December 12, 2022, through January 26, 2023; Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Volunteers — and more volunteers — are needed to help with PIT Count activities. Volunteer teams will cover all parts of the Marion-Polk region with the goal of interviewing every local unsheltered individual.
Volunteer training will be offered.