Over the last three months, communities across the country have been planning and implementing Point-in-Time (PiT) Counts, as part of a pan-Canadian effort to enumerate homelessness in Canada. A PiT Count is a research methodology used to provide a “snapshot” of homelessness in a community over a 24-hour period. In total, thirty communities, as part of the 2016 Coordinated Count, led by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, will have conducted counts between January and April.

As we near the end of April, the work is far from over. The end of the counts marks the beginning of survey review, data input, analysis and calculating the results.  As part of this process, communities must look at their PiT Count data and ask: “Based on this data, what is the minimum number of people experiencing homelessness in our community?” It’s through answering this question that communities can evaluate their current responses to homelessness, improve program development, consider systems responses and, most significantly, measure their progress towards ending homelessness.

In anticipation of this next step, we have recently published an infographic and accompany guidance as part of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness’ Point-in-Time Count Toolkit. This infographic, entitled Reporting Your Numbers, explains how a count is calculated. It shows how to calculate and represent the number of people found to be experiencing homelessness during the PiT Count.

The infographic highlights the importance of clearly and accurately representing the various living situations the PiT Count enumerates. As the Canadian Definition of Homelessness explains “Homelessness describes a range of housing and shelter circumstances, with people being without any shelter at one end, and being insecurely housed at the other.” The PiT Count methodology cannot generally capture all experiences of homelessness, such as those at-risk of homelessness. Instead, its main purpose is to count individuals staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing and unsheltered locations. As a result, PIT Count data must be carefully represented, so as to promote an accurate understanding of the issue.

 For more information on reporting PiT Count results, refer to the COH PiT Count Toolkit: Communicating Results.

Reporting your numbers infographic is also available as a PDF.
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