One of the best methods of determining progress is through the use of Point-In-Time (PIT) Counts. Alternatively referred to as “Street Counts”, “Homeless Counts” or “Street Needs Assessments” PIT Counts are a measure of the number of homeless people on a specific day (hence the point in time reference). This type of counting is known as “taking a snapshot” of the situation. Some communities do a strict inventory of beds and occupancy rates in homeless shelters. Other communities include women and children living in Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters and people staying in hospitals or jails with no fixed address.

Some municipalities go even further by developing a questionnaire to ask people experiencing homelessness about their history, background and needs. This includes demographic questions such as age, gender, race, sexual orientation and veteran status. It also asks what services people need or use, whether they would like housing and how long they have been homeless.

See our section on "How to conduct counts" to find resources on methods, challenges, and best practices in conducting a homeless count.

You can also find the latest homeless count reports for your community in our "Community Profiles" section.