As a recipient of federal and state funds supporting homeless services, our community is required to conduct Point in Time Counts annually.
The Point in Time Count is essentially a point-in-time census of the homeless population in Spokane. This census is conducted every year during the last ten days in January and is designed to give every federally-funded community a snapshot of homelessness where they live. The 2021 Spokane County Point in Time Count will happen January 28. This is one of several elements in our effort to move people into permanent housing, as the data gathered from this census shows us much more than how many people are homeless in Spokane. We learn more about who is living in homelessness in Spokane County; why they are homeless, what barriers they are facing, as well as, key data points that can impact how new programs are designed. Combined with other data sources, we can see trends, target areas, and gather information about effective programs. The data from this count also helps us secure funding for future services from state and federal sources as it provides the data used to complete grant applications and reports required by state and federal homeless service funders.
Due to COVID-19 precautions that meets HUD’s Methodology Guide the 2021 census will be modified under their guidance. Communities throughout Washington State, and the nation, are similarly adapting their census to best balance the need to have an accurate accounting of those that are experiencing homelessness against the very real health and safety risks of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; as a result of the infection risk for all populations including houseless individuals, volunteers, and staff, counts will only be conducted within shelters by staff.
Unsheltered individuals will not be contacted by outreach staff or volunteers for the 2021 count. However, data about unsheltered people is still being collected. The majority of street outreach programs/organizations focused on understanding and addressing the needs of the unsheltered homeless participate in the designated Community Management Information System database. All outreach projects, regardless of funding source, track outreach contacts and demographic information specific to those that they encounter. Caseworkers refer those encountered to the Spokane City and County Continuum of Care’s Coordinated Entry/Assessment project for assessment and housing placement. This helps ensure that the Continuum of Care is able to identify unsheltered homelessness trends, outside of the annual Point in Time Count, and connect this especially vulnerable population with stabilization services.
The most effective and safest way to support this effort in 2021 is to donate directly to service providers to they can secure the items and supplies they need. Below is a list of service providers the City partners with for the Point in Time Count with a link to their donation pages.
Families, Women & Children