The annual Point in Time (PIT) Homeless Count was held on January 21, 2016, and more than 550 civilian volunteers participated, along with Neighborhood Police Officers (NPOs) from the Dallas Police Department. The participants found and surveyed unsheltered homeless individuals across the City of Dallas, along assigned routes of known encampments. More than 600 unsheltered homeless people were located, and the majority agreed to be surveyed.
The purpose of the surveys was to achieve a one-night snapshot of unsheltered homelessness in Dallas. The count and data collected are then rolled into a large federal grant request that will provide permanent supported housing and casework services for the area’s homeless population.
The Dallas Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit was intricately involved in the operational planning and execution of the PIT Count. Caseworkers from the unit were paired up, and facilitated the count by finding and interviewing transient homeless people who were not located in previously identified encampments.
The volunteers are part of the Citizens Offering Police Support (COPS) and the Volunteers in Patrol (VIP) Programs as well as Crime Watch Volunteers from the Jubilee Park Crime Watch Group.
The COPS program provides an opportunity for citizens to work hand-in-hand with officers at the substation, conducting various office and clerical related tasks as well as outside field assignments. The VIP program is designed to reduce crime by qualifying citizens to patrol their own neighborhoods and report any suspicious or criminal activity to the police. In addition to the 550 volunteers who participated in this event, volunteers from the police department’s Youth Outreach Unit also lent a helping hand.
The “Point In Time” Homeless Count was more than just counting the homeless for our volunteers. Some of the volunteers consistently interact with the homeless and others have personally experienced homelessness. For more information about volunteer opportunities, please contact the Youth Outreach Unit at 214-671-3015.