The core features within Counting Us and the Regional Command Center provide everything a region may need to conduct surveys of people experiencing homelessness, and to produce the HUD Point in Time report. Regions with more complex needs have the option to include any of the following additional features:
Customized Point in Time (PIT) Surveys
The surveys use to gather information from both the unsheltered and sheltered populations can be customized to meet local needs. For example, regions across the state of Texas decided to add questions to discern if an individual or family was homeless as a result of hurricane Harvey. Other regions have added questions to gather details on where people are from, what their needs are, and what led to their homelessness.
Volunteer Registration / Recruitment
Advanced tools to support recruiting and managing volunteers can be fully integrated into the Command Center. By using a stylized form, such as this one created for Ventura County, CA, a simple link can be included in all social media and advertising campaigns. Volunteers provide key details about themselves and their preferences, pre-registering them with an account for the Counting Us app. Click here for more info.
Region and Count Team Management
Larger CoCs often find it easier to manage the count by breaking the region up into smaller count areas. The Command Center contains mapping tools that enable a count administrator to define these sub-regions simply by clicking a map to choose which Census Tracts are to be included within the sub-region.
These sub-regions can then have count teams assigned and quotas established for each team for criteria such as total volunteers and number of people with cars. Regions that choose to include Volunteer Registration and Management can also pre-assign volunteers. Click here for more info.
Regions have the ability to add optional surveys to accommodate data collection beyond what is required for the HUD Point in Time Count. Examples of specialized surveys include the following:
More information on these specialized surveys can be found here.
Geographic Sampling and Enumeration
Regions that cover large geographic areas face challenges in producing an accurate point in time homeless count, given the limitation of volunteers and the amount of territory that needs to be covered in a relatively short period of time. Geographic-based sampling and enumeration leverages the GPS capabilities within the phone, along with advanced statistical analysis, to produce reliable estimates of the homeless population without requiring a full canvas of the area. Click here for more info.
Support Family and Social Reunification with Miracle Messages
New, no-cost feature for 2021: In partnership with Miracle Messages, a California based non-profit organization offering volunteer-led efforts to locate loved ones, deliver messages, and reunite families, communities may opt to include additional questions aimed at supporting the social reconnection of people experiencing homelessness. Relevant information gathered from people surveyed who agree to participate in this initiative will be shared with Miracle Messages to support the reunification process. To learn more about Miracle Messages, click here.
Known Locations Survey
New, no-cost feature for 2021: A Known Locations Survey that can be used between now and the date of your count to gather details on areas that are likely to contain people experiencing homelessness. This information should help target volunteer resources, which may be more limited than usual, towards the high-density areas. To learn more about using a Known Locations approach, please see this FAQ.
This Known Locations approach can also be used to inform the geographic sampling and enumeration strategy (described in greater detail here) to allow for only a portion of the CoC to need to be canvassed.