Every year, on a night during the last week of January, Continuums of Care across the nation take part in the Point in Time Count. The purpose of the count is to provide an unduplicated count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations, and to better understand the composition of homeless populations in each community. The Point in Time Count is a means of collecting data on homelessness and tracking progress among CoCs, but it can also be a great way to help foster community connections.
Inviting volunteers to join the unsheltered count efforts helps ensure that CoCs are able to cover more ground and find and identify as many unsheltered individuals as possible. The Point in Time Count also provides an excellent opportunity to bridge the volunteer gap, allowing volunteers to better understand the issue of unsheltered homelessness, and to discover new ways to join their community in the fight to end homelessness.
Assisting in a PIT Count can be a daunting task for both new and old volunteers. Here are some ways to help volunteers navigate their way through count night and to also optimize data collection during your count.
Host a pre-count night! Whether you host your event in the hours before count or days before, carve out some time to remind your volunteers why we count and to train your volunteers on counting methods.
Count Together! Implement teams for your Point in Time Count so that volunteers can count together. Working alone on the night of the count can be intimidating for some volunteers. Use the buddy system to alleviate any count night jitters. Invite outreach workers and homeless liaison officers to lead teams of volunteers on count night, and to share their stories and experiences working day to day to end homelessness.
Implement an observational survey tool! Whether you use HUD’s Observational Tool or develop an assessment that better meets the needs of your volunteers and homeless community, it is essential to have a survey option that allows volunteers to collect basic information for homeless individuals who may not wish to or have the ability to complete a full interview.
Use a mobile application! Implementing a mobile application for your count can help streamline data collection and leverage that data for future use. A mobile app helps volunteers collect data quickly and accurately, while providing a centralized platform for data reporting and analysis.
Here’s what makes Outreach Grid’s Point in Time Count Contributor App unique:
Offline Mode — In our offline mode, volunteers can continue to conduct surveys and gather location information, even in the most remote of locations.
Command Center — Manage your volunteers in real-time, monitoring survey and location submissions. Administrators can view data live as it is being collected by volunteers, and contact and provide feedback to volunteers throughout the night.
Volunteer Smart Assignment — Use the app to group volunteers into teams, and assign outreach workers and law enforcement officers as team leads. Pre-load maps for count night and assign specific count routes to your volunteers.
Location Aware Insights — With the full range of Outreach Grid’s tools, you can leverage your PIT Count data by making it easily available for street outreach workers to follow-up with potential clients and track possible encampments.
Data Analysis and Reporting — We work with you to prepare your data for submission to the HUD Exchange and assist you with building reports for your community stakeholders. Outreach Grid is there for you, count night and beyond!
Want to learn more about Outreach Grid and how we can help you with your Point in Time Count? Visit us at outreachgrid.com and schedule a demo with us today!