Osceola Point-in-Time Count 2018

Hundreds of volunteers, local law enforcement, government officials and nonprofits gathered Wednesday for the annual Point in Time (PIT) count to show their commitment to reducing homelessness in Osceola County not just for those who are chronically homeless, but for everyone who finds themselves without a place to stay at night.

The method to conduct the PIT count is uncomplicated: individual teams walk around an assigned area, identify and converse with as many homeless individuals as possible. Each area in the County is given a team leader who divides that neighborhood into several parts. Two or three volunteers then search the sections, armed with census surveys, pens, information on emergency services, gift bags, water and two law enforcement escorts.

The Point-in-Time Count (PIT) is led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to estimate the number of Americans, including Veterans, without safe, stable housing. It is one of the tools used to assess progress each year toward VA’s priority goal of ending homelessness among Veterans.

HUD requires counts of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons for those communities receiving federal funding from the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant Programs. The PIT count is done the last week of January because it is the time when shelters are expected to be the most full, making it easier to get an accurate count.

The survey asks for basic information: employment status; annual income; veteran status; histories of substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, and physical health; and social services utilized. While the point-in-time count informs where the County might target its resources, it does not determine the funding level. The purpose of the count is to estimate the size of the population in need of homeless housing and supportive services.

The PIT is not without blemishes. There is variation in count technique year-to-year within and across communities. Unsheltered counts have more restrictions than sheltered counts and there is even more variation in the procedure. Point-in-time counts are, however, the only measure that identifies people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in addition to those who are sheltered. And, despite its imperfections, the annual point-in-time counts result in the most reliable estimate of people experiencing homelessness in the United States from which progress can be measured.

The goal of ending homelessness among Veterans is within reach—and in fact, is already happening community by community. Learn more about VA’s homeless programs and get involved. If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, refer him or her to a local VA Medical Center, where homeless coordinators are ready to help.

Veterans and their families can also call 1-877-4AID-VET to be connected to VA services.