Point-in-Time Count: 2022
Nearly 600,000 Americans are currently experiencing homelessness. That’s twice the population of St. Paul. You might ask how this figure is determined. As you might imagine, teams of supporters work together to count those experiencing homelessness during an annual event called a Place-in-Time (PIT) count.
This year’s PIT count in Ramsey County occurred last week. In Minnesota, organizations such as MACV, Veterans Affairs, and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs typically group together to comb the streets, shelters, safe havens, and transitional housing units to engage with and identify Minnesotans experiencing homelessness. County by county, organizers slowly build an accurate assessment of where we stand on this important issue. This year is different because of the pandemic. Last year the PIT Count was cancelled outright, now we’re seeing smaller teams and virtual centers replace the army of providers and volunteers of previous years.
However the work gets done, the data will help us more clearly understand, as a community, what the need is as it pertains to assisting people experiencing homelessness. This count quantifies a snapshot of needed support and, in turn, leads to proper levels of funding and help being distributed to various locations. Having an accurate count is critical to supportive organizations as they provide continued care and services to those in need.
Any veteran encountered by MACV during the PIT count will be able to work with us and get connected with the services we provide. We and our partners don’t want to miss anyone, so MACV and other social support organizations spearhead a statewide, multi-agency virtual call center to answer the questions of any Veterans who are identified during the PIT count. This will allow anyone in need to complete a screening by phone and get the ball rolling for new opportunities.
What we’re seeing in the community is that trends leading to widespread homelessness also impact Veterans. The issues responsible for trends we’re seeing across the nation impact our clients in Minnesota, and we’re glad to say that our work with Veterans puts us ahead of the statewide and national curve.
This PIT count will help us ensure that we’re not surprised by new statistics or influxes of new people needing supportive services. It’s good to compare progress being made to our overall goals – reaching functional zero takes data, hard work, and patience.