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Materials Posted: Point-in-Time (PIT) Count Office Hours

January 22, 2021 Print ShareThis

As we approach the upcoming 2021 Housing Inventory Count (HIC) and Point-in-Time (PIT) count, we continue to face the harmful effects of COVID-19. Communities have each addressed the pandemic with solutions and varying priorities. It is crucial for us to understand some basic information about who is experiencing homelessness, while balancing the need to protect those who are most vulnerable and the people that serve them.

Given these important factors, HUD plans to implement the following requirements for the 2021 HIC and PIT counts:

  1. Conduct the HIC as normal
  2. Conduct the sheltered PIT count as normal
  3. Conduct the unsheltered count based on the allowances outlined in the Conducting the 2021 Unsheltered PIT Count resource

Due to the challenges created by COVID-19, HUD knows that the unsheltered count will not resemble unsheltered PIT counts of the past. The purpose of an unsheltered PIT count is to have information about how the unsheltered PIT count has been impacted by COVID-19. HUD believes this will be valuable for Continuums of Care (CoCs) and for national partners to understand how homelessness has generally changed and what additional efforts or resources may be needed. HUD recognizes that this data will not be comparable to past counts – however, it will provide information about whether unsheltered homelessness has increased and decreased in different types of communities.

Unsheltered PIT Count Exceptions

HUD understands that some CoCs will not be able to conduct an unsheltered PIT count due to the pandemic. CoCs will be able to request an exception to some or all of the requirements for the unsheltered PIT count. CoCs that cannot meet the requirements for the 2021 unsheltered PIT count must submit a request for an exception to William Snow at that describes:

  1. Why the CoC cannot conduct a full unsheltered PIT count
  2. Whether the CoC is requesting an exception to some or all of the requirements of the unsheltered PIT count
  3. If the CoC is conducting a count, what exactly will be included in the count (e.g., a head count only)
  4. Other efforts they are taking to understand the needs of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in their community

CoCs do not need to submit an exception request if they plan on submitting the full unsheltered PIT count data but are changing their methodology. For example, if a CoC is shifting to an observation-based count or is changing their sampling methods, the CoC does not need to request an exception. CoCs that have questions about changes they want to make can review the guidance, attend office hours, or submit an Ask A Question (AAQ) via the HUD Exchange.

CoCs may also request an exception to counting in the last 10 days of January. However, CoCs will still be expected to submit their count data at the end of April, even if an exception to the date is granted. CoCs that want to move their date should still try to count at the end of the month. A change to the date would apply to the HIC, sheltered PIT count, and unsheltered PIT count. To submit an exception request, CoCs must send an email to William Snow at that includes why an exception is being requested and when they propose to conduct the count.

PIT Count Resources and Office Hours

To support CoCs with their 2021 unsheltered PIT counts, HUD has released a new resource, How to Use Sampling within a CoC to Conduct an Unsheltered PIT Count. This guide describes how CoCs can use a sampling approach to estimate a total count of the number of people within their communities who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the night of the PIT count.

While this sampling guidance is applicable for any year, CoCs that typically canvass and count their full geographic area may want to use a sampling strategy for the 2021 count in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A companion sampling tool to assist CoCs in making weighting calculations will be released soon.

Office Hours

HUD hosted the final PIT Count Office Hours from November 2020 – January 2021. Recordings from all PIT Count Office Hours are available on the HUD Exchange PIT Count Office Hours page. Materials from each session are linked below.

Session Date and Time Materials
Session #1
2021 Unsheltered PIT Count Flexibilities
November 24, 2020
3:00 – 4:30 PM EST
View Materials
Session #2
Using Sampling to Conduct an Unsheltered PIT Count
December 3, 2020
3:00 – 4:30 PM EST
View Materials
Session #3
Observation-Based PIT Counts, Brief Surveys, & Alternative Data Sources
December 15, 2020
3:00 – 4:30 PM EST
View Materials
Session #4
PIT Count Waiver Memo and CoC Questions on the 2021 Count Process
January 12, 2021
3:00 – 4:30 PM EST
View Materials
Session #5
Finalizing 2021 PIT Count and HIC Plans
January 19, 2021
3:00 – 4:30 PM EST
View Materials

Additional Resources

The 2021 PIT Count and HIC Guidance and Training page will continue to be updated with new resources. Current resources include:

To view all of HUD’s PIT count and HIC resources visit the PIT and HIC Guides, Tools, and Webinars Page. This is a one-stop site where communities can access all of HUD’s guidance on how to plan and implement their PIT counts. The resources include the PIT Count Methodology Guide, survey tool resources, implementation resources, etc.


If you have any questions about planning, implementing, or reporting your HIC or PIT count data that are not covered in the resources listed above, please submit your questions to the Ask A Question (AAQ) portal. In Step 2 of the question submission process, select “HDX Homelessness Data Exchange (including PIT, HIC, AHAR, Sys PM, LSA, and PDX)” from the “My question is related to” drop down list.