What is the Point-In-Time Count and why is it important? Check it out here.
RAPID CITY, S.D.– In Rapid City and all across the state, organizations that help homeless residents find housing and access to other important services will conduct their Point In Time (PIT) count, which provides the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department of the federal government an understanding of the number of homeless people in cities across the nation. In Rapid City, Black Hills Regional Homeless Coalition Coordinator Amy Ritchie is preparing volunteers to conduct the count in town and explains more on the reason and importance of the count.
What is the Point-In-Time Count?
“The point in time count is federally mandated by HUD. The numbers that we gather over the next few days directly drive the funding for all of the supports systems that we have here for our houseless population in Rapid City. So it’s really important that we get a good count,” Ritchie explained. “We get our participation in identifying our houseless individuals. That way we can hopefully receive more funding next year because we’re up 30 percent in our population over the last couple of years. So demand has been really high.”
How does the PIT count work?
The count begins, Ritchie explains, with asking homeless residents encountered a series of questions. “Those questions are dictated by HUD. We have to ask those questions and then those numbers go to South Dakota Housing. And South Dakota Housing in turn gathers for the entire state and presents those to HUD,” she explained. “For example, they identified over 1300 houseless people last year. This year, we’re expecting an increase. Hopefully, if we identify– if we try to if we get everybody, we’ll never get a perfect count. But we would like to get exactly as close as we can. How many people were houseless on a specific date and time? That’s what Point-In-Time means. It can’t be over a month. It has to be a specific evening.”
How is the count conducted?
We conduct the count over a couple of days. We just have to be very careful when we’re asking them ‘Where did you sleep on January 24?,'” she said. January 24 is the day the state has selected the Point-In-Time Count must be done for. The typical window for the count is usually within the last 10 days of January. “If we are talking to them on the 25 or the 26, we just have to make sure that we’re asking them ‘where did you sleep on this day at this time?’ And HUD mandates we do that at the last ten days of January every year.”
Why is it important to Rapid City?
“Most of the programs that serve our houseless population, either through Volunteers of America, who is the head of the Black Hills Regional Homeless Coalition. And whether it is Volunteers Of America, the Hope Center or, you know, WAVI, all of our emergency shelter type services all count on these numbers in order to apply for funding and justify why they need it. So it’s not just VOA or the Homeless Coalition. It is all of the community partners that provide emergency shelter, food, clothing, rental assistance– all of those things are directly driven by the numbers that we get in this count that we do every year at the end of January.”
Will they be working with any other groups during the count?
Yes. Ritchie says they will be joining with Journey On to conduct surveys through the duration of their count. “This year, we’ve partnered with Journey On to travel with them while they’re doing their excellent work during the count so that we can conduct surveys with people while they’re being transported…You really get to see the crux of of the issue in this town. When you’re riding with Journey On their focus is on the relatives and making sure that they are safe and transported. So that is a really good experience for anybody interested in the houseless population.”
Can I still join to help with the count?
Yes. “Just go ahead and give us a call at Volunteers of America. And the schedule is up there so they can fill that. They can fill in a spot if they want to,” she said. Currently, most of the spaces they have available are involve driving around with Journey on in four-hour shifts running from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. “Those are predominantly the spaces that we have open. We had expected a few more people through some presentations that we did to fill those spots and it just quite hasn’t happened. So we’ll start early next year and get them all filled a little sooner. But yes, we have several positions open to right along in the journey on down, which is an excellent experience for people that are interested in our houseless population.