KQED: The Point-in-Time Count Is Meant to be a Snapshot of Unhoused Populations. How Clear is That Picture?

Radio station KQED, based in San Francisco, recently interviewed Elester Hubbard, outreach supervisor for the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team (SFHOT), a partner of Heluna Health, about the point-in-time count, a federally mandated homelessness survey conducted each January.

Along with reporter Sydney Johnson, Hubbard explained the process that trained teams used to canvas the local area and collect data on the number of people who are homeless.

Hubbard highlighted how SFHOT’s expertise plays a role in getting the most accurate count possible, particularly when counting individuals who are living in their cars or recreational vehicles.

“I think that’s where our expertise comes in,” Hubbard said. “Because we are the boots on the ground, and we understand the landscape and we understand the different encampments or different clients that may be living in RVs. We know what it looks like, versus someone who may not be familiar with encampments or those individuals living within the RVs.”

While reporter Johnson noted a disheartening 7% increase in homelessness as measured by this year’s point-in-time count, she also highlighted that unsheltered homelessness, meaning the number of people living on the streets without any form of shelter, is down 16% since 2019—a trend that Hubbard said he’s seen first-hand.

“We’re just trying to get ahead of the game and offer as much services and expertise, so that way we can help enough individuals so that we can kind of level out the playing field,” Hubbard said.

Click here to listen to the full story on KQED.