The point-in-time (PIT) homeless count conducted annually in communities across the United States is a major metric reported to the federal government that has a number of limitations.
With the PIT count in 2021 being optional because of the COVID-19 pandemic and potential increases in homeless-related needs in the aftermath of the pandemic, there are opportunities for renewed efforts to improve how the United States enumerates homelessness, determines needs of communities, and tracks progress in ending homelessness throughout the nation. This article describes 2 divergent solutions: (1) improve the PIT by standardizing methodologies across jurisdictions and supplementing counts with other data sources or (2) replace the PIT with a new system.
There are strengths and limitations of both solutions. Advocates for either solution agree that there are important funding considerations to take into account and advancing technologies to utilize. As the nation continues to ramp up public health efforts, homelessness is a public health crisis that could benefit from improved epidemiological and data science methods.