Eddy House Team Joins Point in Time Count

The Point in Time Count occurs nationwide every year, and allows each county to collect important data on those experiencing homelessness. It is conducted every year so that we can monitor trends and changes in homelessness. Once the data is collected, it is reviewed and then used to determine what services need to be expanded or introduced, and where government funding is most necessary.

This year, several Eddy House staff volunteered to participate in the annual Point in Time Count on Thursday, January 26th. Among them were our Chief Operations Officer Jillian Keller, Chief Programs Officer Ryan Sexton, Outreach Manager and Coordinator Jose Silonxochitl and Hailey Armer, Development Coordinator Zoie Harmer, and our Office Manager Elisa Garcia. For a few, it was their first year participating in the count, while others were returning after volunteering for last year’s count.

Starting bright and early at 4 a.m., the Eddy House volunteer team gathered at the Washoe County Housing and Homeless Services Division offices in downtown Reno to get ready for the count. They were divided into small teams, and each team was assigned a zone in the county and paired up with a law enforcement officer, who would assist them in finding encampments and intervene in the rare case that a safety concern arose.

In each zone, volunteers approached homeless individuals one by one to gently wake them and ask them to complete a survey. The goal of the count is to collect as much data as possible on homelessness in Washoe County, which in turn informs the allocation of federal funding for homelessness. 

Of course, the people being woken up to answer survey questions were thanked profusely and offered gift cards for meals in exchange for their time. While the Point in Time Count coordinators realize it can be disruptive for folks sleeping outside, they have found this is the best time to collect essential data on our houseless neighbors.

The purpose of beginning the count at four in the morning is to catch people before they leave for work. Contrary to popular belief, a majority of unhoused people are currently working, and visiting them before they’ve left for work allows volunteers to collect as much data as possible. The PIT is also conducted in the winter because the majority of the shelters are full, making it easier to count those folks and requiring less outdoor/unsheltered surveying.

During the Point in Time count, volunteers collect information on the demographics of the homeless population. Each person who is willing to participate in the survey answers questions such as “How long have you been homeless?” and “Do you have a disability?” This allows the county to get a picture of what services are needed.

Later that morning, a new group of volunteers gathered at 9 am to do the motel count. During this portion, volunteers would collect data on the sheltered homeless people who are staying in local motels. 

At the end of the day, the volunteers were tired, but grateful to be a part of this important practice of information gathering. Many of the volunteers were from organizations like ours, who provide services to our unhoused neighbors. While waking someone up at 4 am in the cold of January might be difficult, it is worthwhile to help make sure Washoe County receives adequate funding for services and programs for those in our community who need it.

Eddy House is proud to be a member of a network of homeless service providers in Washoe County. For a complete list of organizations providing services to the unhoused, click below.