If our community identifies individuals or families, including youth, participating in unsafe activities (e.g., exchanging sex for a place to sleep) in order to have a place to sleep on the night of the PIT count, should they be counted as sheltered or unsheltered homeless?

Date Published: December 2014

Print ShareThis


HUD’s sheltered PIT count is limited to individuals and families who meet the definition of homeless under paragraph (1)(ii) in 24 CFR 578.3. This means any “individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangement (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals).”

HUD uses paragraph (1)(i) of its homeless definition in  24 CFR 578.3 to determine who should be identified as unsheltered on the night of the PIT count. This means any “individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground.”

For purposes of the PIT count, HUD would not consider persons described in the question (e.g., persons housed but in a dangerous situation) to be sheltered because they are not in a publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living arrangements. HUD would also not consider any individual or family sleeping inside of a housing structure as unsheltered homeless, even if the only the reason that the individual or family can sleep in that housing structure on the night of the count is in exchange for carrying out an unsafe or illicit activity (e.g., exchanging sex for a place to sleep).  

While HUD does not require CoCs to count these individuals and families on the night of the PIT count, HUD encourages communities to collect whatever data they believe they can feasibly collect on the night of the count that would help them to better understand the nature of homelessness in their geographic area.  CoCs that choose to collect data beyond the data elements required by HUD must ensure:

  1. They can separate the data required by HUD from the additional data collected by the community. CoCs will only report the data required by HUD – those sleeping in unsheltered situations, emergency shelters, transitional housing, and safe havens– in the HDX.
  2. The burden associated with capturing the additional data (increased number of questions, staff counting time, time for analysis, PIT costs, etc.) should not diminish the ability of the CoC to collect the required data.

Even though individuals and families sleeping in housing in exchange for participating in unsafe or illicit activities are not necessarily counted as part of the PIT count, HUD strongly believes that persons engaging in unsafe or illicit activities in exchange for a place to sleep should be assisted to identify safe housing in which they can reside with appropriate supportive services to help them maintain stability in safe housing. In general, persons engaging in these behaviors meet the criteria in the other paragraphs of HUD’s definition of homeless and would be eligible for HUD’s homeless assistance programs (e.g., the CoC Program or the ESG Program) (see the definition of homeless at 24 CFR 576.2 or 24 CFR 578.3 for more information). HUD encourages communities that discover persons in these circumstances to provide services to remove them from these dangerous circumstances.

Tags: HDX PIT - PIT - General