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Annual homelessness count canceled for 2nd year in a row

People experiencing homelessness in Tucson
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jan 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-23 19:20:43-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Every year, hundreds of volunteers in Tucson and Pima County help with the Point in Time Count.

"The Point in Time Count includes a few different pieces. One is the count of people who reside in community emergency shelter programs for people experiencing homelessness. The other is what is commonly referred to as a 'street count.' That's a count of unsheltered people throughout the community," said City of Tucson Planning and Community Development Administrator, Jason Thorpe.

The two counts provide a snapshot of the number of people experiencing homelessness on one night out of the year. The process is required by the federal government and connects local municipalities to funding opportunities.

"Being able to track those trends allows us put resources towards the most present needs. We're always looking at current data when we're making decisions about what types of programs we're going to fund, what types of interventions are necessary and what are the experiences of people who don't have a place to live in our community," said Thorpe.

For the second year in a row, the local street count was canceled due to COVID-19. The last traditional street count took place in early 2020.

"Our community is really experiencing an unparalleled surge in Omicron transmission and COVID-19 infection. It's one of the highest rates of infection we've seen since the onset of the pandemic in Pima County," said Thorpe.

Thorpe said his team will use data-based estimation to get as accurate of a street count as possible.

"We'll be sending outreach workers into known encampment areas to sort of validate our estimation data by doing smaller counts in some of those areas," said Thorpe.

The City of Tucson sees this change as a positive and said it could set the standard for new methods in the future.

"We're really hoping that HUD continues to look at the data that's coming out of communities like ours and begin to rethink the strategies we use to enumerate the number of people experiencing homeless in any given area," said Thorpe.

To learn more about the Point in Time Count and the data collected from it, click here.

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