Point in Time Counts and Action!
Point in Time (PIT) “reveals” are beginning to surface. Over the years I’ve heard various discussions surrounding the value of local counts. In my experience, one of the biggest difficulties surrounding the PIT debate is the fact that it only happens annually and once the report is published it can overwhelm a Continuum because of it’s inherently large number of data points.
As CoC members, funders or citizens we shake our heads, point fingers and wonder once again how to address the numbers because many times we don’t know what caused this year’s PIT changes to begin with. As we get stuck in the cyclical PIT debate we’re sure to hear comments about its accuracy or believability. We might look at those numbers this way – unless the count went from 500 to 5,000 we could accept the results and use them as a jump off point to take action.
PIT results can be used for data-informed system improvements by asking:
- What do this year’s results tell us about what we can do differently?
- What is one achievable area the CoC can improve upon given current funding, expertise and resource availability?
- How will we plan a process for moving forward? Will it include progress checkpoints and a data source to see how we’re doing?
Poking around your Continuum’s PIT report always provides a place to start. If your document doesn’t offer a trend analysis, pull out the past two reports and do some comparisons. Interesting information always lies underneath the predictable PIT measures. Your community might being seeing a new increase in chronic homelessness or a surprising large reduction in a particular subpopulation.
Once the CoC has selected an area to monitor, craft a simple one-year action plan with reviews scheduled for each quarter. Form a workgroup of knowledgable persons who commit to attend all the meetings. All meetings could mean quarterly only – no need to overwhelm the committee. Be sure identify a data source that can be used to measure how approaches are progressing.
Start simply because the inherent depth of the PIT information can leave stakeholders in a place of decision paralysis. As the book “Switch” lays out, being faced with an endless number of solutions can make any problem simply too complicated for people to solve.
Homelessness won’t be solved by next year anyhow so why not start somewhere now? As your CoC becomes comfortable with simple review processes, it can apply similar evaluation steps to address larger and more complex problem areas.
Years ago I worked with a professional who told me the biggest hurdle to effective sales was the mindset he coined “getting ready to get ready”. This applies to our roles in ending homelessness equally well as well so let’s commit to starting somewhere and be energized by the results!