Point-in-Time Toolkit

Canadian Observatory on Homelessness

A Point-in-Time (PiT) Count is an effective strategy for gauging the extent of homelessness in a community on a specific night. This method enables communities to gain insights into both the magnitude and nature of homelessness and the demographics of the homeless population. PiT Counts are instrumental in enhancing planning and, when conducted periodically, allow for the assessment of progress in mitigating homelessness.

The execution of a PiT Count is a critical component of community responses to homelessness. Its purpose transcends mere enumeration of those experiencing homelessness; it's about sparking systemic change at both local and national levels to eradicate homelessness.

However, it's important to recognize that a PiT Count is essentially a snapshot. The reliability and accuracy of the data collected hinge on the thoroughness of the methodologies used and the engagement of all stakeholders. While a PiT Count is a valuable tool, it represents just one of many data collection strategies. Others include homelessness management information systems like HIFIS, shelter bed counts, registry weeks, and various research methods, all contributing additional layers of information.

Although a comprehensive PiT Count yields significant insights, it cannot ascertain the precise number of individuals experiencing homelessness in a community. For instance, those who are temporarily housed or disconnected from homeless-serving agencies may not be included in the count. Despite these limitations, the benefits and valuable data derived from conducting a PiT Count make it a worthwhile endeavor for communities.

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