The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Washington State Department of Commerce require communities to conduct a one-day Point-In-Time (PIT) Count to survey individuals experiencing homelessness. PIT Counts are one source of data among many that help us understand the magnitude and characteristics of people who are homeless in our community and in the United States.
The Point-In-Time (PIT) Count is a one-day snapshot that captures the characteristics and situations of people living here without a home. The PIT Count includes both sheltered individuals (emergency shelters or transitional housing) and unsheltered individuals (those sleeping outside or living in places that are not meant for human habitation).
The annual PIT Count happens the last Friday in January, and is carried out by volunteers who interview people using a standard survey form that asks people where they slept the night before, where their last residence was located, what may have contributed to their loss of housing, and what disabilities the individual may have. It also asks how long the individual has been homeless, age and demographics, and whether the person is a veteran and/or a survivor of domestic violence.
Like all surveys, the PIT Count has limitations. Results from the Count are influenced by the weather, by availability of overflow shelter beds, by the number of volunteers, and by the level of engagement of the people we are interviewing. Comparisons from year to year should be done with those limitations in mind.
"The Point-In-Time Count provides the homeless assistance community with the data needed to understand the number and characteristics of persons who are homeless at one point in time."
-U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development