2020 Point In Time Count

What is the Point In Time Count?

The Point In Time Count (PIT Count) is an annual census of the homeless population in the Austin/Travis County area. Early in the morning of January 25th, 2020, hundreds of volunteers will head out across Austin/Travis County to count every person experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Volunteers will count people sleeping in cars, tents, parks, under bridges, and on the streets. The information from this count is used to guide public policy and is vital for securing resources to help end homelessness in our community.


Volunteer Roles

The Point In Time Count can’t happen without the support of community volunteers, and this year we’re looking to recruit 800 people to help with the count.  There are two types of volunteers, Team Leads and General Volunteers.  Much of the count occurs on foot, so volunteers should be comfortable walking several miles during their shift.  See the descriptions below for information on each volunteer role.


If you are interested in volunteering for the PIT Count but are unable to walk long distances, consider helping us collect donations to pass out during the count (see the donations section below for more information).  We also require a handful of volunteers to assist ECHO staff at the PIT Count Headquarters on the night of the count.  Please email us for more information about volunteering at the PIT Count HQ or helping with donations.

  • General Volunteer

    This role is available for anyone over the age of 18.  Prior to the night of the count, General Volunteers are expected to complete a required training (either in-person or online).  On the night of the count, General Volunteers will work on a team of no less than 3 people to canvas the assigned area.  General Volunteers will talk with persons experiencing homelessness to conduct a survey that helps ECHO better understand the scope of unsheltered homelessness in Austin/Travis County.  Click here to view full General Volunteer role description.

    Time Commitment:

        • Approximately 2 hours to complete the mandatory training prior to the count (available online whenever and in-person in the weeks before the count)
        • Approximately 5 hours on the night of the count which includes meeting up with your Team Lead, canvasing your area, and debriefing with your Team Lead once your shift is complete


        • Respond to communications from your Team Lead.
        • Complete the mandatory PIT Count General Volunteer training prior to the count
        • Conduct surveys will all individuals found sleeping unsheltered during the count
        • General Volunteers should expect to walk a few miles during the count
  • Team Lead

    This role is available to individuals who were previously a PIT Count Team Lead, and individuals who have participated in the PIT Count as a General Volunteer and are interested in taking on a larger role.  Team Leads are responsible for managing a team of 15-20 General Volunteers. Leading up to the count, Team Leads are expected to communicate relevant information to their team members as well as surveying their assigned section to become familiar with the area and where people may be staying.  On the night of the count, Team Leads will oversee their team, and they are responsible for staying in communication with Headquarters.  Click here to view full Team Lead role description.

    Time Commitment:

        • Approximately 5-10 hours per month from December through January including communication with your team and scouting your assigned section
        • Approximately 5 hours the night of the count which includes meeting up with the General Volunteers on your team, canvasing your area, debriefing with your team after counting, and checking in with Headquarters


        • Recruit as many of your friends colleagues, and family members as you can to participate in the PIT Count
        • Complete General Volunteer training prior to the count
        • Serve as the point of contact for your team of General Volunteers, answering questions and relaying information from the PIT Count organizers
        • Meet with your team prior to the count to built rapport and strategize
        • Gain familiarity with your assigned section
          • This is one of the most important duties of Team Leads.  Expect to spend time in the months leading up to the count scouting your area.  Introduce yourself to people experiencing homelessness and try to identify likely areas to find people during the count.
        • On the night of the count, guide your team around your assigned section.  Team Leads will complete surveys in addition to managing their team.
        • Team Leads should expect to walk a few miles during the count.

Volunteer Release and Confidentiality Form

Help with donations

Icons of hygiene supplies, socks, and snacksEvery year PIT Count volunteers hand out care packages to the people we find during the count.  These care packages typically include items like hygiene supplies (toothbrushes, toothpastes, soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene products), small non-perishable snacks, and socks.  Socks tend to be especially popular.  We need your help to collect donations!

Anyone can help with donations, and collecting donations can be an alternative way to support the PIT Count if you’re unable to participate as a General Volunteer.  We’d like to encourage people to run their own donation drives collecting donations from friends, families, colleagues, schoolmates, and faith communities.  We will also happily accept donations from individuals.  Once you have collected your donations, reach out to ECHO and we’ll work with you to get the donations where they need to go.

We are looking to collect enough donations for around 2000 people.  All donations need to be received by the second week on January to allow us time to put together the care packages.  Any donations not handed out on the night of the count will be given to local shelters.  Click here to download a flyer with information on the PIT Count and donations that you can use for your own donation drive.  Please feel free to email us at PointInTime@austinecho.org with any questions you have about collecting donations, and we’ll be happy to help.

Check out ECHO’s PIT Count wish list on AmazonSmile

You can purchase items through Amazon using ECHO’s charity wish list and have your donations shipped directly to ECHO.  Click the link below to be directed to AmazonSmile, log in or create an Amazon account, and view a list of items needed for PIT Count care packages.

2020 PIT Count Wish List

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PIT Section Map

The map for the 2020 PIT Count has been revised from previous years to make canvasing the Austin/Travis County area easier for volunteers.  There are more individual sections this year, and many of the sections are smaller to facilitate better coverage.

When you sign up to volunteer you will be asked to list a preferred section and shift.  Requesting a section and/or shift is optional, and section/shift assignments are subject to change by the organizers to ensure the full area is covered.  In general, we recommend that only experienced volunteers sign up to work the downtown and surrounding sections as these areas tend to be highly populated.

You can click on the map below to view a larger version that you can explore.


PIT Count Training

Everyone who volunteers for the 2020 PIT Count is required to complete the General Volunteer training.  General Volunteer training can be completed in-person or online.  Online training can be completed by viewing the training video, below, and passing the accompanying quiz.

All first time PIT Count volunteers are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to attend an in-person training.  See the PIT Count Calendar, above, for a list of all the in-person training dates with links to register for specific training sessions.  The General Volunteer in-person training sessions are scheduled for mid-January 2020.

In addition to the General Volunteer training, all PIT Count volunteers should review the Digital PIT Count survey training video, below.  You will need to be familiar with the digital system in order to complete surveys during the PIT Count.


PIT Count General Volunteer Training


Using the Digital PIT Count Survey System

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