CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County’s annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is underway for 2022.
The county’s community support services oversees the tally as a way to determine federal funding to combat homelessness.
In 2021, the count found 1,947 people were experiencing homelessness, with 14% of those people not in shelters, transitional housing or safe haven locations.
This year, the count, which officially started Wednesday, will stretch for several days as the county partnered with nonprofits and other community organizations to reach people experiencing homelessness.
“Charlotte-Mecklenburg will complete the unsheltered portion of the PIT count by relying primarily on Street Outreach and PATH staff as well as grassroots organizations already engaged with individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. This approach, which is in alignment with HUD guidelines, will take place over multiple days, and leverage the work that staff are currently doing,” the county said in a release.
One of the organizations involved this year is the Hearts Beat As One Foundation. Executive Director Bethany McDonald said the group’s involvement in this year’s count was a major development.
“They’re not just a statistic to us, there’s a humanity aspect of it that’s been so often overlooked,” McDonald said.
Over six days, starting Thursday, McDonald and other staff will head out to encampments across the area. The goal is twofold: to increase the awareness of services like Hearts Beat As One’s food pantry, and to meet the requirements for the PIT count.
“It’s different this year because we’re trying to make it more than just a statistics-based visit. We want it to be something where we’re also bringing things that people need,” McDonald added.
The PIT count, a federal requirement, is a deciding factor in how much money comes in to help combat homelessness.
“It’s literally so that we can get the funding to keep bringing out blankets, and food, and tarps and tents, and things like that,” McDonald said while sorting cans.
In a COVID-19-related change, the PIT count is not relying on volunteers.
“Although the 2022 PIT Count will not utilize volunteers to conduct surveys, there are multiple ways individuals and groups can still meaningfully support the homeless service organizations who will shoulder most of the work,” the release stated.
So it will be up to McDonald, her colleagues and other organizations to make connections and start counting.
“It’s finding people when they’re in that space, so we can include them in that count, in those metrics and statistics, because that’s how the funding comes. And so, it’s super important that we do this,” McDonald said.
The county says the spotlight of this year’s PIT count will be young people, ages 18 to 25. For more details on the count, click here.