New survey method aims to capture scope of homelessness in Albuquerque
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — How many people are homeless in Albuquerque on a daily basis? That’s a question city officials are hoping to answer, so the city is changing how they collect that data.
The “Point In Time” count, also known as the PIT count, gives city officials a clearer number for the homeless population in Albuquerque. It plays a role in getting funding, shelter, and beds.
Mayor Tim Keller and other city officials gathered Thursday to talk about the annual PIT count that just wrapped up.
“The PIT count is a required aspect of the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Continuum of Care program,” said William Bowen with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.
They just finished a week of surveying people who are living on the streets.
“We also sent teams of surveyors to ride buy lines and to daytime service sites to do the count this year,” Bowen said.
Bowen says they divide up the city by quadrants and ask people to take a survey with basic questions like age, ethnicity, and how long they’ve been homeless. Bowen says the data gives agencies a clearer picture of what the city is up against.
“I think it’s important to note that the PIT count is only part of the picture when it comes to homelessness,” Bowen said. “It’s never going to be a perfect number for a variety of reasons, but it’s an important number.”
He added that the final numbers are often lower because many people refuse to take the survey and don’t get included in the final data.
Even with the challenges, Bowen says help from the Albuquerque Community Safety Department this year was major. He says ACS was surveying during regular shifts and as a separate group for the PIT count.
“We were really pleased with the efforts of our partners at the city to help us improve the count this year, as well as last year in a number of different ways,” Bowen said.
Bowen says they are only halfway done with the count. Right now they’re in the process of surveying all the shelters and other homeless housing facilities in the city. The final report is expected to be released this summer.