Point-in-Time Count: Who Needs Shelter in Your County?

What is the activity?

Each January, agencies across the country complete the Point-in-Time Count to add up the number of community members without housing in their area and determine how much federal funding counties receive for relevant services. Service agencies often only have enough capacity to take the count at shelters and need volunteers to help fill the gaps to get a more accurate count and get our communities sorely needed resources. We know that even in communities with enough resources to keep a shelter open, shelters only house a fraction of our communities’ unhoused population. People without housing live in their cars, on friends’ couches, in tents, or sleep on the streets and the number of people experiencing houselessness has skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic!

Why this activity?

In previous years, ROP leaders learned that some counties would not have participated in the Count and gotten additional federal funding for services if their human dignity group had not offered support! We are all feeling the housing crisis on the local level, and are grappling with how to ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met. The Point-in-Time Count is a simple way to show up for our neighbors this month, work with people we might not get to talk to every day, and secure much-needed funding for rural communities for the year to come.

How to complete the activity:

  1. Decide as a group why this matters to you. Once you can explain why securing federal funding through the Point-in-Time Count matters to you, you’ll be ready to start talking to people about it. You can create your project “mission statement” by drawing on the “why” part of this activity, or you can make it up on your own.
  2. Contact your region’s Continuum of Care organization to get full details on their plan for the Point-in-Time Count. Click here to find contact information for your region’s organization. They might have a developed plan with trainings and roles that you can plug into, or you might be free to brainstorm with them the best way to reach people who don’t have housing!
  3. Develop a plan to recruit volunteers: Divide up a list of potential volunteers and make personal calls and emails to invite them. Think about people in your community that have been involved in other projects to address food and housing insecurity. What about community garden, warming station, or food bank volunteers? Remember this could be the kind of event that will bring in folks beyond the choir!
  4. Extra Credit: Start a community conversation! Write an op-ed about why funding services makes our communities stronger. Highlight the reasons why your group decided to participate in the Point-in-Time Count and what you learned by doing it.
  5. Let us know what the Count looked like in your community at emma@rop.org!

Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The theory is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results as groups of people gather to complete the same action throughout the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still manage to complete the KTA each month.

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