2017 Homeless Count

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Frequently Asked Questions about Count Night

Q: What is a Point-in-time Homeless Count?

A: Point-in-time Homeless Counts (aka, “PIT Count”) are large scale, community efforts to locate, count, and survey everyone who is experiencing homelessness at a particular point in time—Count Night. The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition (TCHC) coordinates Count Night for Tarrant and Parker Counties on the last Thursday of January.

Q: Why count? (And why at night in January?!)

A: Annual counts help us understand the changing trends, extent, and nature of homelessness in our community. The data is also used to measure the progress we are making in ending homelessness. Homeless counts take place across the United States during the last 10 days of January to provide the nation with comparative and longitudinal information on the nature and extent of homelessness. It is easiest to locate people who are homeless when it is cold, late at night, and at the end of the month.

Q: Who can volunteer?

A: Teams of 3 – 5 adults, age 18 and older. For safety, teams will stay together and conduct the count as a group, using ONE vehicle. This is an excellent project for congregations, community groups, and neighborhood associations; unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate volunteers younger than 18. Note! Many counting routes involve a good deal of technical walking—in parks, vacant lots, and alongside roadways and trails. (Individual volunteers may register to participate in the Fort Worth count only; however, counting assignments are not guaranteed and will be made on Count Night after team sign-in is complete.)

Q: What exactly will we do?

A: Volunteers will gather at 8pm to receive training and their route assignment at one of four designated deployment locations in Fort Worth, Arlington, NE Tarrant County, or Weatherford. Volunteers will drive themselves to their assigned geography, canvas that area, and conduct the count. Volunteers will then return to the deployment location to report their findings.

While exploring an assigned geography, volunteers will be needed to drive, navigate, record areas that have been canvassed. When interviewing people who are homeless, volunteers record answers to survey questions, hold flashlights to provide lighting, make notations on route maps, and monitoring the group’s location and surroundings.

Q: What should we bring to count night?

A: Your team will need:
• a reliable vehicle, gassed up and ready to go
• at least two cellphones, charged up and ready to go
• volunteers dressed for outdoor walking and weather appropriate outer wear – bright colored jacket or reflective gear
• at least two flashlights and fresh batteries
• clipboard and pens
• optional: bottled water, granola bars or other nonperishable snacks to share with people you encounter

Q: When will the Homeless Count take Place?

A: Thursday, January 26, 2017 from 8:00pm – 1:00am. Volunteers must be available for the entire period—registration, training, deployment. TCHC anticipates that most routes can be counted within 2-4 hours.

Q: What happens in the event of really bad weather?

A: People who are homeless contend with the elements year-round; thus, it is unlikely that the count will be called off due to inclement weather. That said, North Texas weather can always churn out surprises. If ice or lightening are present, check your email, TCHC social media, or the TCHC website for updates.

Q: Where will the Homeless Count be conducted?

A: The 2017 Homeless Count will take place throughout Tarrant and Parker Counties. Cities involved in the count have been divided into counting routes and plotted onto maps. Areas to be searched are under bridges, in parks, in cars, and wooded areas and abandoned buildings that are in the estimation of the volunteers safe to investigate. Volunteers should also look in at 24 hour public areas and restaurants where persons may be seeking shelter from the cold. Volunteers will canvas all the practicable areas within their assigned map route.

Routes have been tiered by history of encampments or likelihood of presence of homeless persons. Tier 1 routes are highly likely to have homeless persons, and most of these sites will have a law enforcement person assigned to follow the volunteer team in a patrol vehicle. Tier 2 routes may have homeless persons or have high commercial density with high visibility. Tier 3 routes have no history of presence of homeless persons, but allow us to cover the largest geographic area possible. Depending on the number of volunteers, Tier 1 routes will be assigned first, then Tier 2, then Tier 3. ALL routes are important. It is informative to know not only where unsheltered persons are, but also where they are not when we examine year to year patterns.

Q: Who will be counted in the Homeless Count?

A: Persons who will be counted are individuals and members of families that are considered homeless on the day of the count, based on the definition of homelessness provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD provides communities with guidance on the definition of homeless:

A person is considered homeless when he/she resides in places not meant for human habitation such as cars, parks, sidewalks, and abandoned buildings. A person is also considered homeless if he/she resides in an emergency shelter, a domestic violence shelter, a shelter for runaway or homeless youth, or a transitional housing program, having arrived from off the streets or from an emergency shelter.

The count of the sheltered homeless, those residing in emergency shelters and in transitional housing programs will be taken from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), databases and other electronic client data collection tools used by homeless service providers.

Q: What will be asked of persons identified as homeless?

A: TCHC has developed a survey that captures information on demographics, homeless experience, housing, health and safety. The survey is VOLUNTARY. For persons who do not wish to be interviewed, volunteers will record as much information as possible by observation. Collecting names, contact information and photos, will help us document individuals’ episodes of homelessness. Documentation of homelessness is critical in helping persons qualify for housing programs for the homeless.

Q: When will the results of the Homeless Count be reported?

A: Results of the homeless count will be shared with the public at the “State of the Homeless Address” in February 2017.

 

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Help us spread the word about Count Night!

Recruitment Flyers
Print the flyer, cut along the vertical tear lines, and hang it in your workplace of work, house of worship, or neighborhood café!

2017 Count Flyer