Homeless Counts

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires Continuums of Cares (CoC) to conduct a point-in-time (PIT) count of persons experiencing homeless at least every two (2) years.  The Tampa/Hillsborough County CoC conducts a homeless count annually.  According to HUD, each community shall make every effort to count all homeless individuals living outdoors, in shelters, and in transitional housing.

THHI coordinates the Homeless Count in Hillsborough County in partnership with CoC members, law enforcement, social service providers, city and county staff, the VA, and business and community members.  Beginning in 2013, the Homeless Count has been done annually.  Prior to 2013, the Homeless Count was conducted every two years.  While required by HUD to be completed during the last 10 days of January, THHI has and will continue to request a waiver to conduct our community’s count the last Thursday in February to avoid conflict with Tampa’s annual Gasparilla celebration.

During the Homeless Count, hundreds of volunteers canvass the streets, alleys, and wooded areas to locate, count and survey literally homeless people including those who are living in:

  • emergency shelters (including motel/hotel vouchers),
  • transitional housing and interim (bridge) housing for homeless persons,
  • places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, on the street,
  • a dwelling lacking any of the following should be considered homeless: drinking water, restroom, heat, ability to cook hot food, or ability to bathe. 

Persons living temporarily with family or friends due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (often referred to as “doubled-up” or “couch surfing”) do not meet the HUD’s definition of homeless persons, of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, required for the Homeless Count.  There is no requirement to count these individuals; however this data is useful in identifying the need for housing and services.

The data collected through a short survey and observation during the Point-in-Time Homeless Count provides a ‘snapshot’ as to what the homeless population in our community looks like during a single, 24-hour period to help community planners better understand through demographic information who is homelessness, why and for how long.  THHI uses a process to ensure the count data is unduplicated.  It is important to note that a homeless count is always an under count as it is impossible to locate and count every homeless person is a single day, however the data collected is valuable in helping to identify trends.

All personal information collected in the point-in-time process is confidential, and the CoC takes all necessary steps to protect the identity and confidentiality of each person counted.

All volunteers and partner agency staff participating in the PIT Homeless Count must attend a training that has been specifically designed to accommodate the community effort to conduct the PIT Count.

For more specific Homeless Count data, please see the following:

2017 Tampa/Hillsborough County CoC PIT Homeless Count data

2016 Tampa/Hillsborough County CoC PIT Homeless Count data

2015 Tampa/Hillsborough County CoC PIT Homeless Count data

2014 and 2013 Tampa/Hillsborough County CoC PIT Homeless Count data

Links to National and Florida Homelessness Data and Statistics


Best Practices and Guidance related to Conducting Homeless Counts

HUD’s 2015 Point in Time Methodology Guide

HUD’s Notice CPD-16-060: 2017 HIC and PIT Data Collection for CoC and ESG Programs

HUD’s 2017 HIC and PIT of Homeless Persons Data Collection Guidance

5 Myths about PIT Counts – National Alliance to End Homelessness