At 9pm on January 26, DeKalb County officials Melvia Richards and Josie Parker Batchelor prepare volunteers for the annual Point in Time (PIT) Homeless Census.
The PIT count helps answer questions such as :
How many people are experiencing homelessness in the United States? How many are families, youth, or veterans?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the census be done every other year, on a single night, during the last two weeks of January, in all communities receiving federal funds.
Local officials rely on the survey answers to provide services to those in need and to track their progress in aiding those in their community.
Between 9p-2 am, volunteers fan out into every corner of DeKalb County from Decatur MARTA stations to encampments in the woods in Clarkston, driving around to gas stations and churches, trying to spot anyone who might be homeless and record their information using a phone app.
At a warming station in Avondale, volunteers use the app to survey this individual. The survey includes questions about their age, sex, race, how many times, and for how long, they have experienced homelessness. What factors have led to the situation and if they are currently seeking housing assistance? In exchange for their answers, they receive a $10 McDonalds gift card. Anyone found sleeping out of doors, was offered transportation to a warming station.
According to the 2022 PIT Count, there are 565 people in DeKalb County experiencing homelessness. 163 people were found sleeping outdoors and 402 were in emergency shelters or transitional housing. According to the 2013 PIT count, there was 705 homeless individuals in Dekalb County and trends have shown, the total number of homeless have dropped 29% since 2014. The 2023 PIT Count numbers will be released in late Spring.