Niagara Region, alongside agencies from Niagara’s Homelessness Servicing System, is once again taking part in the third annual Niagara Counts homelessness Point-in-Time (PiT) Count on March 23, 2021. The Count will identify the number of both sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness across Niagara. Results gathered from the PiT Count will be available in summer 2021 and will help us improve our response to homelessness and allow us to measure progress towards our ultimate goal: ending homelessness in Niagara.
Due to COVID-19, community agencies have put in place additional safety measures to support the PiT Count. Niagara Counts will be comprised of staff from the partnering agencies and Niagara’s Assertive Outreach (NASO) team. No community volunteers will participate this year. COVID-19 safety measures include using personal protective equipment, postponing of “Indigenous magnet” events until later in 2021 and the use of digital survey platforms. All modifications have been in consultation with Niagara Region Public Health.
“As a community, we’ve decided it’s important to conduct the Count — perhaps even more so this year because we want to know how COVID-19 has impacted individuals experiencing homelessness so local responses can be developed moving forward,” said Cathy Cousins, Director of Homelessness Services and Community Engagement Division at Niagara Region.
The annual Count provides a snapshot of homelessness on a single night in Niagara. Niagara’s Point-in-Time Steering Committee has conducted the Count at the same time and in the same way in the past in order to identify trends in homelessness over time. Because of changes enacted to protect the health and safety of all parties involved, the results of the 2021 Count may not be directly comparable to those of years past.
Niagara will use the PiT count results to help the Region and its partnering agencies to better understand the extent and nature of homelessness, especially during a pandemic. It will show where progress has been made, illuminate specific demographic and programmatic gaps, and provide additional information needed to solve chronic homelessness and continue to improve the region’s homeless response system.
As a Built for Zero community, the PiT Count will complement the additional community activities underway to reduce chronic homelessness and help respond to the pandemic. These include the establishment of a quality By-Name-List, a list of people experiencing homelessness, improving coordinated access into the system, operating a COVID-19 isolation facility and hosting vaccine clinics for individuals experiencing homelessness that have been impacted by the pandemic.
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