Last Updated on January 17, 2023
A pdf of the above image is available at https://friendsoftheunsheltered.org/wp-content/uploads/Clatsop-PIT.pdf.
During the May 8, 2023 Seaside City Council meeting Rick Bowers described this slide during the public comment period. Here is the link (opens in new window): https://www.youtube.com/live/Xr5__DSGJ3M?feature=share&t=4197.
3-Minute Public Comment
Today I, Rick Bowers, would like to share some information about homelessness counts… specifically HUD’s Point-in-Time count. It’s important to understand this program because it frequently finds its way into news articles and discussions… and is frequently misunderstood.
The Point-in-Time count was started by HUD in 2005. The point-in-time count is an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in a community who are experiencing homelessness. It includes both the sheltered (e.g., couch-surfing and those in temporary shelters) and the unsheltered. It occurs in the last ten days of January… every other year.
At the federal level the counts are by Continuum of Care, regions of the country defined by HUD. Clatsop County is one of 26 counties in the Rural Oregon Continuum of Care… also known as the Balance of State Continuum of Care. Similar “by county” data is also reported to the state of Oregon which is what you see in the handout.
There are many legitimate criticisms of the Count. For example, many folks are homeless for a few days to a month… never to return to a shelter. The Point in Time would miss many of these folks. Another criticism… how do we possibly find all the unsheltered on one particular night? I’ve known individuals who sleep in the woods and others behind trash bins. How are these people counted? The handout has another example of “iffy” data. The 2015 Point-in-Time count reported just over half a million homeless across the country while another government entity says there were 1.3 million homeless children that same year. The HUD number represents all ages. The almost three times larger National Center for Educational Statistics is only children. How can that be? Another problem is year-to-year comparisons of data. Entities have learned lessons and developed better tactics for the counts throughout the years. Some part of increasing homelessness may be due to better counting practices.
Yet… the Point-in-Time count is really the only count we have. From my perspective I view it as a minimum count of the number of homeless who are in the county. There are probably more. And as shown in the handout, Clatsop County has experienced the highest rate of homelessness for many many years.
- Housing & Urban Development (HUD) requires each Continuum of Care (CoC) to do a Point in Time (PIT) count in early January every other year.
- The PIT includes counting both unsheltered and sheltered (e.g. warming center) homeless individuals and families.
- Clatsop Community Action is responsible for the count in Clatsop County.
- Clatsop County is in HUD’s Rural Oregon Continuum of Care (that includes 26 Oregon counties).
- PIT data reported to the State of Oregon is at the county level.
- The 2021 “count” is an estimate (due to the pandemic). See https://www.pdx.edu/homelessness/statewide-homelessness-estimate-2021.
- Clatsop Count has, and has had for years, the highest reported rate of homelessness among counties in the State of Oregon.
- Among states, Oregon ranks number 4 in the rate of homelessness (number of homeless per 100,000 residents).
- “Clatsop County is ground zero for the housing crisis in the country” (Leslie Ford is a housing strategy and development advisor for Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization and Project CareConnect). Seaside Signal, January 6, 2023.
- “The PIT count is also the main data source for measuring progress on the goals of Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.” See https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/point-time-counts-are-crucial-data.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Point-in-Time (PIT) Count Standards and Methodologies Training: https://www.hudexchange.info/trainings/courses/point-in-time-pit-count-standards-and-methodologies-training/.
Homeless Populations and Subpopulations Reports: https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/coc/coc-homeless-populations-and-subpopulations-reports/.
The State of Oregon
Oregon Housing and Community Services – Point-in-Time: https://www.oregon.gov/ohcs/homelessness/Pages/index.aspx.
Portland State University: Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative: https://www.pdx.edu/homelessness/statewide-homelessness-estimate-2021.
More information on the PIT count: https://friendsoftheunsheltered.org/research-pit/.
DON’T COUNT ON IT: How the HUD Point-in-Time Count Underestimates the Homelessness Crisis in America: https://homelesslaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/HUD-PIT-report2017.pdf.
Is There a Better Way to Count the Homeless: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-04/the-problem-with-hud-s-point-in-time-homeless-count.
State of Homelessness in 2022: Statistics, Analysis, & Trends: https://www.security.org/resources/homeless-statistics/.