The Point-in-Time Count is a survey that counts the number of people experiencing homelessness on a particular night. The survey, which takes place every two years, highlights how homelessness is changing and helps us decide how to allocate resources and create a system of care that best serves vulnerable Calgarians.
Why do a count?
While agencies have information about people accessing their programs and services, they don’t have data about people who don’t have a home, but who also aren’t accessing shelters.
The Point-in-Time Count, however, allows us to learn about the rough sleepers, the people who couch surf, or who reside in places like hospitals or jails when they don’t have a home. The Point-in-Time Count therefore provides a fuller snapshot of homelessness in our city.
What type of data is collected?
Three types of data are collected:
Administrative Data – this is gathered from shelters, transitional housing facilities, and COVID-19 isolation sites.
Systems Data – this is gathered from theJustice and Solicitor General’s Offices, Alberta Community and Social Services, and Alberta Health Services. This data shows people with no permanent home who are staying in hospitals, treatment facilities, prisons, andhotels and motels sponsored by social services.
Street Data – this is gathered through an in-person survey of people sleeping in places like vehicles, tents and makeshift shelters. The surveys are administered by trained volunteers.
Who does the count?
Calgary has conducted a Point-in-Time Count every two years since 1992.
Since 2016, Calgary has done a provincially coordinated Point-in-Time Count as part of the “7 Cities” of Alberta. All 7 Cities—Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo—use the same methods for their counts, allowing trends in homelessness to be identified across the province.
Calgary’s Point-in-Time Counts are partly funded by the federal government through the National Homelessness Partnering Strategy, which means we also align our counts with others taking place in cities across the country. By joining this initiative, Calgary is contributing to a greater understanding of homelessness in Canada.