Let’s Count: How you can support unhoused folks during the 2023 Point in Time (PIT) Count
AUSTIN (Nov. 3, 2022) – The countdown is on to the 2023 Point in Time (PIT) Count, and this week we’re kicking off our community’s efforts to recruit at least 1,000 volunteers and fill at least 3,000 care packs to hand out to folks living outside in Austin and Travis County.
Starting in the late evening hours of Friday, January 27, 2023, teams of volunteers will load up with supplies and head out across our community to find and survey as many people experiencing homelessness as possible. Volunteers can sign up individually or on behalf of a group at austinecho.org/pit.
“The Point in Time Count is a great opportunity to get involved in our community’s efforts to end homelessness,” said Angela de Leon, ECHO’s Internal Operations Manager. “The more people who volunteer, the more supplies we’re able to hand out, the more conversations we’re able to have, and the more complete our survey results are going to be.”
In 2020, for example, our community saw a 39% increase in volunteers from the year before. This surge in support, combined with improved survey techniques, helped provide a clearer picture of the landscape of unsheltered homelessness. These results were used at the start of the pandemic by aid groups to help target food, healthcare, and other resources directly to people where they were.
In addition to recruiting volunteers, ECHO is soliciting donations to create care packs to hand out to people on the night of the count. Community members can donate individual items that will ship directly to us through an Amazon wish list, or make a financial contribution earmarked specifically for supplies. Both options are available at austinecho.org/pit.
First In-Person Count Since 2020
This will be our community’s first in-person PIT Count since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, due to the danger associated with gathering a large group to interact face to face with a high-risk population, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allowed communities to develop and submit alternative methodologies to measure the unsheltered population on a single day.
Our community sought and received an exception from HUD in 2021. Read more about the decision here.
ECHO’s Research & Evaluation (R&E) Team developed an alternative methodology that uses information in Austin and Travis County’s centralized, person-level database, the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), to capture an estimate of homelessness on one day. Because this methodology is reliable and easily reproducible, the R&E Team pulls this single-day snapshot monthly and updates our Homelessness Response System dashboard on a regular basis with this and many more data points. A high-level overview of this data is also available on our redesigned Homelessness in Austin page.
Results from the 2023 PIT Count will supplement data available in HMIS to provide a more holistic view of the scope of the need for housing and other resources in our community.
“Data drives our community’s decisions around how to support people who are working to end their homelessness. The PIT Count is a great way to support this work,” said Claire Burrus, ECHO’s Research & Evaluation Manager. “Volunteers get to see the immediate impact of one-on-one conversations with people, while also contributing to the longer-term impacts these surveys will have on our system.”
This year, we’re making it easier than ever for volunteer groups, businesses, student organizations, and everyone focused on ending homelessness in our community to support our unhoused neighbors.
We’re onboarding partners now to support our volunteer recruitment efforts, as well as collect donations ahead of time to hand out to folks we meet the night of the Count.
ECHO led a community process to develop the 2023 Point in Time Count Branding Guide, available on the newly-launched PIT Count page on our website. In the guide, organizations will find resources to help activate their networks, including:
- New logos for 2023
- Pre-made downloadable social media content
- Printable flyers in English and Spanish
- Canva templates for social media posts
- Suggested language and calls to actions
About the Point in Time (PIT) Count
The Point in Time (PIT) Count is a survey of the unhoused population in Austin and Travis County that happens every other year at the end of January. Hundreds of volunteers load up with care packages and head out early in the morning to find as many people experiencing unsheltered homelessness as possible. Point in Time Counts matter most because they are the primary way the federal government tracks the overall number of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. Plus, they’re a great way for you to get involved in our community’s efforts toward our shared national goal of ending homelessness!
Watch KXAN’s story about the 2020 PIT Count: