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help for homeless veterans

Homeless Veterans


Point-in-Time (PIT) Count

Everyone Counts in the Effort to End Veteran Homelessness

The Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is an annual effort led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to estimate the number of Americans, including Veterans, without safe, stable housing. It is among the tools used to assess progress each year toward VA’s priority goal of ending homelessness among Veterans.

Conducted annually in late January, each count enumerates the number of homeless individuals, including Veterans, on a single night. This national “snapshot” of homelessness isn’t the whole story, however. The PIT Count doesn’t reveal the ever-growing list of communities—including Virginia, Houston and New Orleans—that have already ended homelessness among Veterans or are on track to doing so, because the data for the most recent estimate was collected in January 2016.

What the PIT Count Measures

Nevertheless, the PIT Count is among the ways VA estimates the homeless population nationwide to help direct resources based on need. Here’s who performs the PIT Count and what it measures:

  • The PIT Count is administered by HUD’s more than 400 Continuums of Care (CoCs), which are local planning bodies responsible for coordinating all homelessness services in a geographic area.
  • During even-numbered years, CoCs are only required to count sheltered persons (those living in emergency shelters and transitional housing), although many CoCs voluntarily collect data about unsheltered persons during those years.
  • During odd-numbered years, CoCs are required to count sheltered and unsheltered persons—those living on the street or in another place not meant for human habitation.
  • The January 2016 PIT Count results reflect national snapshots of homelessness through the end of 2015.

The January 2016 PIT Count

The most recent PIT Count was conducted in January 2016. This national snapshot of Veteran homelessness showed that:

  • On a single night in January 2016, fewer than 40,000 Veterans were experiencing homelessness were identified.
  • On the same night, just over 13,000 of the Veterans counted were unsheltered or living on the street.
  • Between 2015 and 2016, there was a 17 percent decline in the estimated number of homeless Veterans nationwide, which was four times the decline from 2014 to 2015.
  • The estimated number of Veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States declined by nearly 50 percent between 2010 and 2016.

The next PIT Count will take place in January 2017.

What the PIT Count Is Used For

Here’s how the PIT Count is used:

  • It generates data for the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, which describes the overall scope of homelessness in America and among several subpopulations, including Veterans.
  • It is used in conjunction with many other data points to make strategic decisions about programs for Veterans who are homeless that are administered by VA, HUD and partner organizations.

A Goal Within Reach

The goal of ending homelessness among Veterans is within reach—and in fact is already happening community by community.

Here’s what we must do to further this progress and sustain these gains:

  • Maintain government investments that are supporting effective interventions to prevent homelessness among Veterans and rapidly re-house those who become homeless
  • Keep up our relentless outreach to Veterans in need
  • Collaborate with governments, employers and community-based entities to house, employ and serve Veterans exiting homelessness

“We’re reducing the outrage of Veterans’ homelessness,” the president said, but we “can’t rest until every Veteran who has fought for America has a home in America.”

Learn more about VA’s homeless programs and get involved. If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, refer him or her to a local VA Medical Center, where homeless coordinators are ready to help. Veterans and their families can also call 1-877-4AID-VET to be connected to VA services.

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