Niagara is once again taking part in a coordinated effort to measure homelessness across Canada. Volunteers are needed to conduct Niagara’s coordinated Point in Time Count (PIT) of homelessness, a strategy to help determine the extent of homelessness in our community.
Niagara’s first counts took place in 2018 and 2016. Its primary purpose is to identify, at a given point in time, how many people in Niagara are experiencing homelessness in emergency shelters, on the streets, in transitional housing, or in other people’s homes. It also works to gather and analyze valuable information and data about Niagara’s homeless population with a view to providing programs and services to prevent and reduce homelessness.
Communities across Canada will also be conducting Point in Time counts in early 2020. By joining with them, we are helping to build a national picture of homelessness.
Over a 24-hour period, trained volunteers will count and survey individuals who are staying in shelters, transitional housing and sleeping without shelter. Niagara Counts will provide a "snapshot" of homelessness in the region. The 2020 count will include “magnet” events that target specific populations, especially people who are “couch surfing”, and “service counts” that staff existing services such as meal programs, with trained surveyors.
Niagara Counts is a collaborative effort among Niagara Region and social service providers across the region, with a steering committee representing a variety of sectors organizing the event. The success of Niagara Counts depends on a dedicated team of volunteers to help carry out this initiative. The count is important, and offers a great way to connect with one’s community and to meet like-minded people who care about Niagara and each other.
The Point in Time Count will improve our understanding of the needs and circumstances of the people who are affected by homelessness in our community. The survey will provide key data on gender, age, veteran status, reason for housing loss, and more. Results from the count will be made publicly available and will be used to improve our response to homelessness. In the future, successive counts will allow us to measure progress toward the ultimate goal of ending homelessness in Niagara.