The Calgary Homeless Foundation, in conjunction with over one hundred volunteers and countless community partners, successfully conducted its biennial Point-in-Time Count on October 19, 2016. 3,430 people were counted as experiencing homelessness. This represents approximately 1 in every 406 Calgarians. As promised in the preliminary report released in November, the present report includes data that was not included in the preliminary report; this includes data collected from Alberta Health Services and from persons unable or unwilling to complete a survey, but still believed to be without a home. This data was not collected across the province and therefore was not included in the provincially-coordinated preliminary release.
For more than a decade, communities in Canada have been conducting counts of their homeless populations; these are generally referred to as Point-in-Time (PiT) Counts. The first Count in Calgary was conducted in 1992. There are several reasons to conduct PiT Counts. First, unlike data on homeless people kept on a day-to-day basis by social workers and other front-line professionals, data gathered from PiT Counts captures information on rough sleepers (i.e. persons sleeping outside on the night of the count)—a group about whom not much data is usually collected. PiT Counts therefore offer a rare glimpse into the demographic profiles of an underserved subpopulation of persons experiencing homelessness. Second, PiT Counts typically try to uncover demographic information about recently-homeless persons now residing at large institutions, such as correctional facilities and hospitals. A third strength of PiT Counts is that they can raise public awareness about homelessness—indeed, PiT Counts tend to encourage ‘community building.’ In Calgary, groups participating in the PiT Count often feel better-connected and empowered when they join together every two years to undertake the count. Lastly, Calgary’s PiT Count attempts to gather data from all programs serving homeless persons, regardless of how or by whom they are funded, in order to create a snapshot of the whole picture. This breadth of data is not collected by a single organization at any other time.