Survey conducted by City agencies and hundreds of volunteers helps to establish funding priorities and inform service allocation for homeless residents across the city
The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) will conduct its annual Point-In-Time (PIT) assessment of Chicago’s homeless population from 9 p.m. tonight until 3 a.m. tomorrow. The assessment is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness at one moment in time. Each year, data compiled during the PIT count are analyzed and help to inform areas of need and the allocation of resources for housing and services. The City finds the data gathered annually are essential in demonstrating the need for federal funding, services and resource planning, and to raise public awareness about homelessness.
“The City is committed to ensuring that social services are readily available to every Chicagoan experiencing homelessness and that every vulnerable resident is accounted for and has a place to call home,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “Preventing the cycle of homelessness citywide requires that we meet residents where they are and broaden access to support resources citywide so that no one is left behind.”
The PIT count, which is required to be conducted every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), includes both a comprehensive tally of individuals in shelters and of individuals residing on the streets, riding public transportation, at 24-hour establishments, and in parks, cars, and other locations not meant for sleeping. Over 400 volunteers, including City employees and homeless shelter providers, will canvass the entire city in a span of a few hours over the evening.
“Point-in-Time counts are important because they provide some of the data required to understand the dimensions of the problem of homelessness in Chicago,” said DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. “PIT data informs our multifaceted approach of outreach, prevention, shelter and planning so that services and housing are provided in a manner that works toward making episodes of homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring.”
Since 2015, PIT data shows a 22% decline in overall homelessness with noted decreases for unsheltered individuals and veterans. While reducing homelessness citywide remains an urgent priority for the administration, the recent decline in the homeless population can be attributed to the ongoing work DFSS does with its delegate agencies, advocates and stakeholders. Through these partnerships, DFSS houses more than 4,000 people per night through a citywide network of overnight shelters and interim housing.
Under Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership, the City approved a new budget which directs a 36% percent increase in funds – and one of the largest budget investments in history – to be dedicated specifically for homeless prevention and interventions. Included in the budget is a $5 million investment to the Flexible Housing Pool to provide homes to more than 200 youth – aimed at reducing youth housing instability and homelessness in the city by 25%.
The City also increased funding for homelessness by $1.8 million through its partnership with the Chicago and Cook Country Flexible Housing Pool (FHP), comprised of private and public investments. Under the FHP, the City can quickly house and provide supportive services to some of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations, including individuals experiencing homelessness who frequently cycle through the criminal justice system and often utilize hospital emergency rooms for care.
DFSS plays a key role in managing the City’s infrastructure related to prevention, shelter, outreach and housing services. Residents can call 311 for assistance with living expenses, shelter placement and other resources related to homelessness. Information also is available online at Chicago.gov/homeless.