David Lewis, HMIS Program Manager, No Phone Number Available
Friday, June 2, 2017 at 3:08 p.m.
On January 26th, 2017 the City of Spokane, along with dozens of local service providers and volunteers, conducted the annual point-in-time (PIT) count of homelessness. This annual event, required by federal and state funders, is a region-wide effort to count those that are experiencing homelessness.
The success of the PIT relies on the dedication and professionalism of the local agencies and non-profits that serve the homeless. Volunteers from these agencies selflessly donate their time to seek out those experiencing homelessness and to learn their stories and needs. The data obtained through this process is used to compete nationally for grant funds and to inform local strategies and efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
The results of the PIT indicated a slight increase in the overall number of those that were living in area emergency and transitional housing shelters and a decrease in the number living on the streets or in places not meant for human habitation. The presence of the pilot 24/7 Shelter Program at the House of Charity and The Salvation Army had a big impact on the number of those that were in shelters. It is thought that the decrease in the number living on the streets and places not meant for human habitation is largely attributed to the 24/7 Shelter Program.
One of the biggest increases in PIT population data was in the number of people that were identified as chronically homeless. Chronic homelessness is defined by those that have experienced four or more instances of homelessness within the last three years, or one year of continuous homelessness, and the presence of a disabling condition, such as chronic alcohol and substance abuse, physical disabilities, and chronic health conditions. Several factors contributed to the increase: 1) the presence of the 24/7 Shelters resulted in the ability to get better data on those that identify as chronically homeless; 2) improvements in methodology by which chronic homelessness is determined. Identifying those that are chronically homeless is critical to determining what housing strategies and services are needed to better serve our most vulnerable population. Increases aren’t always bad when they ultimately lead to better outcomes for those that need the most help.
The City of Spokane and its partners are committed to evaluating and improving the annual PIT count. Special planning committees, comprised of experts from area non-profits and social service agencies, will soon begin planning the next PIT count. Homelessness is a community problem that requires a community solution. Working together we can prevent and end homelessness!