The Point-in-Time (PiT) Count is a survey that takes place every two years in The City of Calgary, which counts the number of people experiencing homelessness on one night. The PiT highlights how homelessness is changing year after year, which helps us decide how to allocate resources to best serve vulnerable Calgarians.
Why do a PiT Count?
The PiT provides a fuller snapshot of who is experiencing homelessness in our city.
While frontline workers at homeless-serving agencies capture daily information about individuals experiencing homelessness when they access programs and services, this information doesn’t tell the entire story.
In contrast, the PiT tells us the magnitude of homelessness on a particular day over time. It allows us to learn more about the underserved homeless population—the rough sleepers (those who sleep outdoors) who may not access services on a regular basis. The PiT also includes administrative data about individuals experiencing homelessness, who are temporarily residing in institutions like correctional facilities and hospitals.
PiT Counts: A Province and Nation-Wide Effort
PiT Counts have been conducted in Calgary since 1992, with The City of Calgary undertaking the PiT every two years. In 2008, The City appointed Calgary Homeless Foundation to lead future counts as part of its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.
We have also taken steps to align ourselves with PiT Counts nationwide. In 2018 Calgary’s PiT was partly funded by the federal government through the National Homelessness Partnering Strategy, a Canada-wide program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness through funding.
That year, we participated in the Strategy’s PiT Count, so that Calgary’s PiT occurred alongside those of other communities across the country. By aligning ourselves with other cities, Calgary is contributing to a greater understanding of homelessness in Canada.
A Wealth of Data
Three types of data are collected for Calgary’s Pit Counts, including:
Administrative Data – Administrative data is gathered from shelters, treatment centres, and supportive housing providers.
Street Data – Surveys are conducted with people experiencing homelessness outside on the night of the count. The surveys are administered by trained volunteers, Calgary Police staff, DOAP Encampment staff, and Calgary Community Standards (bylaw) officers.
Systems Data – Systems data is obtained from Alberta Health Services (AHS), provincial correctional facilities, and with people staying in emergency shelters.
What we have learned from PiT Counts
Thanks to the PiT, Calgary learned that before the launch of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness in 2008, the city was experiencing a biennial increase in homelessness of 35%.
Calgary continues to be the epicentre of homelessness in the province. However, since 2008, over 10,000 people have been housed and growth in homelessness has stopped.
We know this, because the PiT has shown a decline in overall homelessness on a per capita basis of 32% since 2008. In 2018, Calgary represented 51% of the total provincial homelessness count of 5,735 – down 9% from the PiT in 2016.