Everyone Counts – The Nationally Coordinated Point-in-Time Counts of Homelessness in Canada

The Point-in-Time (PiT) Counts are a community-level measure of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. It also provides a national picture of homelessness.

The PiT Counts are comprised of two components:

  1. A PiT Count Enumeration. A PiT Count enumeration is an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness within a determined geographical area on a single night. It also identifies the location where they spent the night: in shelters, transitional housing, or unsheltered locations.
  2. A Survey on Homelessness. The Survey on Homelessness includes a set of standardized survey questions that are administered directly to individuals experiencing homelessness. Respondents include those in shelters, transitional housing, health and correctional systems, unsheltered locations, and hidden homeless (e.g. people who are “couch surfing”). The survey collects information on the characteristics and experiences of people affected by homelessness to help community organisations and all orders of government better understand and serve individuals experiencing homelessness in Canada.

On this page

Who can participate

We invite any Canadian community to take part in the PiT Count. Designated communities conduct a PiT Count as part of the Reaching Home program.

Method

Infrastructure Canada works with communities in Canada and experts in data collection and analysis, homeless service provision, and subject matters included in the Survey on Homelessness to develop a common approach for each PiT Count. The PiT Count approach is outlined in the Standards for participation. This approach gives flexibility for communities to build upon the core questions and adapt aspects of the method to their local context.

How communities can use the information

Communities can use the information collected through a PiT Count to:

  • identify populations that are over-represented among people experiencing homelessness
  • better understand the pathways into homelessness to strengthen prevention services in those areas
  • build collaboration within the homelessness serving sector and across other sectors, such as health and corrections, to target investments where they are most needed
  • garner support from the public to work together toward the goal of ending homelessness
  • direct resources to areas of greatest need

A PiT Count can also support Coordinated Access (CA) by validating and complementing a community’s Unique Identifier List (UIL), a person-specific dataset that includes everyone currently experiencing homelessness who has consented to be included in the dataset. PiT Counts can help to improve data quality on the UIL and inform community planning efforts. The PiT Count can be leveraged to conduct outreach to individuals and families who may not normally access services in the community. If they wish, these individuals can then be added to the community’s UIL. A community can also compare PiT Count results with their UIL to check for completeness of the UIL. Comparing both the numbers and demographics between the two data sets can support this data quality check.

Registry week event

Communities can also do a joint PiT count and Registry Week. A Registry Week event allows communities to begin to:

  • kickstart their CA, if it not yet in place
  • assess the needs of people experiencing homelessness
  • create or update a UIL
  • use the results to link individuals to housing supports

Supports to conduct a PiT Count

  • Standards for participation: Produced by Infrastructure Canada, the tool includes the essential elements for participation in the nationally-coordinated PiT count: Core Standards, Recommended Standards, Core Screening questions, and Core Survey Questions
  • Guide to Point-in-Time Counts in Canada: Produced by Infrastructure Canada, the Guide provides guidelines and direction for communities carrying out a PiT Count
  • Point-in-Time Count Toolkit : Produced by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), the toolkit provides additional guidance and tools that complement the Guide to support communities in carrying out a PiT Count
  • Homelessness Learning Hub: Serves as a repository of resources and tools produced by the Government of Canada, COH, and communities to support the planning and successful implementation of a PiT count
  • Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS): A Homeless Management Information System developed by Infrastructure Canada, which includes a module that can be used to securely collect and report PiT count data

Findings from previous PiT Counts

Contact us

For information on Point-in-time Counts:

Email: HPD.DATA-DONNEES.DPMI@infc.gc.ca