City Of Chicago Conducts Annual Survey Of Homeless Population

January 27, 2016

Point-in-time count to establish funding priorities and inform service allocation for homeless residents across the city

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) has conducted the 2016 Point-In-Time count to assess the city’s homeless population. Each year, the count estimates how many homeless residents reside in shelter and in public spaces on any given night. PIT provides valuable information for planning the delivery of homeless services, while raising awareness of homelessness in Chicago.

The needs identified in previous PIT counts helped inform the development of Chicago’s recently updated Plan to End Homelessness – Plan 2.0. Each year, the City of Chicago establishes funding priorities that align with the priorities of this community plan.

"The City remains engaged in a dialogue with all stakeholders on how to best address the special needs of our homeless residents, as the face of homelessness is ever-changing,” said Lisa Morrison Butler, Commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services. “In addition to our daily outreach and service to more than 3,000 residents each night, this annual survey will help us to identify areas of need as we work alongside our partners to connect homeless residents with permanent housing.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires municipalities and homeless service providers to demonstrate their needs on a biennial basis by reporting how many individuals experience homelessness on a given night. Though 2016 is not a year in which the City is required to report, DFSS continues the PIT to monitor the number of residents experiencing both unsheltered and sheltered homelessness to inform allocation of services and outreach.

Data compiled during the Point-In-Time count will be thoroughly analyzed, and results will be released through a report this summer. Primarily, this data is used to determine the types of housing and services that may be needed and will then inform a plan to allocate resources.

More than 100 city employees and 350 volunteers, including 45 from homeless shelter providers, assisted with the 2016 Point-In-Time (PIT) survey of Chicago’s homeless residents. Volunteers are arranged to form approximately 100 teams who work throughout the night to count homeless individuals who are unsheltered on the street or in the public way.

Volunteers are trained by DFSS staff and will receive an overview of the homeless count and how to engage residents. On the night of the count, volunteers are divided into teams of three or four with at least one experienced team member. Teams conducted a survey of homeless individuals and families on the street between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. in a designated area of the city near one of 21 site locations.

DFSS’ Homeless Outreach Prevention (HOP) teams work daily with residents experiencing street homelessness and chronic homelessness to assist them in securing support services and housing. Through partnerships with delegate agencies, DFSS houses more than 3,000 people per night through a citywide network of overnight shelters and interim housing.

The City of Chicago has made important progress in improving delivery of services to homeless residents through the creation of a new coordinated access system. The system works to prevent homelessness when possible, match individuals who become homeless with the right resources when they enter the system, and to coordinate outreach efforts for residents who are sleeping on the street or in public spaces to ensure they have a path to housing.

In collaboration with key partners, DFSS has developed a more accurate approach to identifying veterans in need of housing, known as the “One List.” Chicago joins other major urban cities in a national campaign by President Obama to end veterans’ homelessness, and has joined national counterparts—including Los Angeles—in updating its plans to end veterans homelessness based on more up-to-date projections of its homeless veteran population. While the One List was first created to address the issue of veteran homelessness is currently working to expand that approach to address chronic, family and youth homelessness.

Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Emanuel has increased funding for homeless services by more than 10 percent and invested in new programs targeting veterans, youth, families, victims of domestic violence and the chronically homeless. In addition to securing permanent housing for more than 1,500 homeless veterans, Chicago has produced more than 2,300 units of affordable housing and has designated 800 vouchers to serve homeless residents.

Department of Family and Support Services Press Release