BLOG: How the annual Point-In-Time Count helps reduce homelessness in our community

Categories: Blog, Featured News

One of the most common questions about homelessness heard locally is, “How many homeless people are in Stark County?” This is a hard question to answer with any accuracy, because people can change from housed to homeless, or vice versa, every day. The most reliable data comes from the Point-In-Time Count.

During the last ten days in January of each year, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asks communities to count their homeless populations. This process is known as the Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. This year, Stark County’s designated day was January 22, 2017.  During the pre-dawn hours of January 23, 2017, four teams “hit the streets” in Stark County searching for homeless individuals and families sleeping in “places not meant for human habitation.” Two teams served in Canton, one in Alliance and one in Massillon. Team members included volunteers from the Canton Adult Parole Authority, ICAN, Veterans Services groups, CommQuest Services, Stark Mental Health & Addiction Recovery, the YWCA, Hunter House, the Homeless Hotline, a community church member from Christ the Servant  and the Anchor House.

Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery donated bags that consisted of a blanket, crank-able flash light and socks.  Staff stuffed the bags with Street Cards, PATH/CABHI outreach cards and personal hygiene kits that the agency received as a donation.

Individuals and families in emergency shelters (both homeless and domestic violence), transitional housing and homeless veterans are also counted as part of the PIT Count.

The Point-In-Time Count provides communities with data to:

  • Help understand where needs exist
  • Form a picture of the distribution of resources
  • Track progress towards goals
  • Highlight the need for resources
  • Spotlight the impact of resources
  • Solicit new and continued resources
  • Engage public response and participation

Between 2013 and 2017, the number of unsheltered homeless individuals and families counted during the PIT Count has decreased by 60.7% and the number of those sheltered has decreased by 36.3%. Please see the table below for a comparison between 2016 and 2017 PIT Count data.

PIT Count 2016 2017 % Change
Unsheltered Count 37 22 -40.5%
Sheltered Count 423 297 -29.8%
Total 460 319 -30.7%


How can I help? If you would like more information about the Homeless Hotline or agencies offering homeless services, visit our Homeless Continuum of Care of Stark County (HCCSC) » website. If you are interested in volunteering with agencies helping Stark County’s homeless, please call the Homeless Hotline at 330-452-4363 to learn more.

About Jennifer Keaton

Jennifer Keaton currently serves as Program Manager at StarkMHAR in the Heartland East Department, where she has been employed since 1996. Heartland East performs Administrative Services Center functions for fifteen counties throughout the state covering behavioral health enrollment, claiming and reporting operations for behavioral health services and also acts as the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Lead for Stark County. Jennifer is responsible for oversight of the Stark County Homeless Hotline (including the Centralized Intake and Coordinated Assessment process implemented by her team) and the local HMIS. Her previous positions with the organization have included Operations Specialist, Enrollment Specialist and Research Assistant. Jennifer’s civic involvement comprises over two decades as a volunteer for Canton City Schools (including a term as an elected Board of Education member – President and Vice President, Citizens Advisory Committee, Bond Issue Campaign Committee Executive Committee member). Additionally, she served in various offices for Cedar Elementary School PTA, Canton City PTA (including President of both) and Ohio PTA as Health, Welfare and Safety Commissioner, ten years with the Girl Scouts of America as a Troop Leader and Neighborhood Organizer/Consultant, Christmas for the Homeless (benefiting Canton YWCA Emergency Shelter) and Habitat for Humanity.