Number of Persons Experiencing Homelessness -
Point In Time (PIT) Count
Continuums of Care (CoCs) representing the 48 most populous cities in the United States, including the Austin/Travis County CoC, are assigned to the “Major City” CoC category by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is done to better understand how homelessness differs by geography and levels of urbanization and population.
Among Major City Continuums of Care:
- The average number of total unique individuals counted in the 2020 PIT Count was 6,277
- The average number of total unique individuals counted in the 2019 PIT Count was 6,102
- The average number of sheltered unique individuals counted in the 2019 PIT Count was 3,817
- The average number of unsheltered unique individuals counted in the 2019 PIT Count was 2,285
- The median number of total unique individuals counted in the 2020 PIT Count was 2,350
- The median number of total unique individuals counted in the 2019 PIT Count was 2,275
- The median number of sheltered unique individuals counted in the 2019 PIT Count was 1,660
- The median number of unsheltered unique individuals counted in the 2019 PIT Count was 606
Please note, the medians of the combined sheltered and unsheltered counts will not necessarily match the median for the total.
PIT Count = Point in Time Count
Based on this, the Austin/Travis County CoC is performing better than the national standard average, but underperforming our peer CoC’s relative to the median number of unique individuals counted in the PIT. Our CoC also has a higher number of unsheltered individuals compared to other CoCs of similar size. In February 2021, the City initiated the Housing-Focused Homeless Encampment Assistance Link (“HEAL”) initiative City Council for the purpose of connecting individuals experiencing homelessness to housing-focused services, and reducing the necessity for unsheltered camping in Austin. As of March 31, 2022, 247 individuals were successfully transitioned from public camping sites to bridge shelter.
*Medians provided to show the high level of skewness of this data (i.e. cities that have extremely high numbers of clients represented in this measure that drag the average towards a higher number).
The number of people experiencing homelessness in Austin has continued to rise in 2021, though at a lower rate than the growth of the Travis County population.
Due to COVID-19 and the health concerns of conducting a traditional Point in Time Count, ECHO utilized an alternative methodology to estimate the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in 2021. More information on alternate methodology can be found in the 2021 HMIS Snapshot Report.
Note: to see the underlying data for this chart, please select the "View Source Data" link to the left.
Additional Measure Insights
This chart displays the numbers for the Point in Time Count back to 2019 with the data broken out by race. The numbers include both sheltered and unsheltered individuals. It is important to view the data in this way to track the progress our community is making on reducing homelessness in an equitable fashion.
In 2021, the Austin/Travis County Continuum of Care, led by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), implemented a number of equity-focused changes to to address racial disparities in the Homelessness Response System, including:
the governance structure of the Continuum of Care (CoC). The newly created
Homelessness Response System Leadership Council, the managing board of the
CoC, has codified policies to maximize diverse representation of
homelessness system stakeholders and individuals with lived expertise.
Specifically, the governance charter requires one-third of its
members to be composed of people who identify as non-white and / or
Hispanic, and reserves three seats for individuals with lived expertise of
Leadership Council decided and sourced funding to compensation people with
lived expertise in homelessness that serve not only on Leadership Council,
but its committees and workgroups.
CoC created and adopted the Austin Prioritization Index, a new equity-centered
prioritization tool that is used to connect people experiencing
homelessness with housing programs. The goal is to eliminate race, gender,
and sexual-orientation disparities in how people access housing programs
Measure Details and Definition
1) Definition: This measure is the number of people experiencing homelessness in Austin/Travis County who were counted as sheltered or unsheltered during the annual Point in Time (PIT) Count.
2) Calculation method: The Point in Time (PIT) Count is calculated by totaling two components:
1) People who slept unsheltered on the night of the PIT Count: Calculated using volunteers conducting surveys in the early morning hours dispersed to cover the entire geography of Austin/Travis County and then entered into HMIS.
2) People who slept in a location considered as sheltered homelessness (in an Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing program, or in a Safe Haven). This is calculated using data entered into HMIS by these three types of programs.
3) Data Collection Process: This data is collected by staff and volunteers with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) who administer the PIT Count each year in January.
4) Measure Target Calculation: The target for this measure (2,275) is the median number of individuals counted by communities similar to Austin/Travis County during the 2019 PIT Counts. There is not yet aggregate national data published on HUD's website to create a new measure target calculation for 2021.
5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Annually (Fiscal Year)
Date page was last updated: July 2022