Point-in-Time Homeless Count

Thursday, January 25, 2018

This year's count will take place on the night of January 25-26, 2018.

Registration for UChicago volunteers IS NOW OPEN -- see form below!

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) conducts its annual Point-In-Time Homeless Count to obtain a “snapshot” of Chicago’s homeless population, in accordance with Federal regulations. The data gathered on the actual number of persons experiencing homelessness in Chicago within this designated night serves as a basis for Federal funding, for service and resource planning, and to raise public awareness about homelessness.  The count is conducted by volunteers, working in concert with shelter staff, as well as CTA, Chicago Park District, CPD, and CFD personnel throughout the city.  For the last four years, UChicago has been one of the largest providers of volunteers for the Count city-wide, supporting all South Side count efforts.  

Generally speaking, the Count itself lasts from approximately 9 PM until 1-2 AM, with the majority of volunteers' time spent in vehicles canvassing city neighborhoods in search of homeless persons; when such persons are encountered, volunteers invite them to participate in a short interview survey to gather more detailed information about their experiences of homelessness. Volunteers should dress warmly/in layers, as they will be in and out of their assigned vehicle repeatedly throughout the night.  Volunteers with access to cars (personal vehicles or car-share vehicles) are especially helpful to the canvassing effort.

Typical Count schedule:

  • 7 PM Gather at UCSC Offices (5525 S. Ellis, suite 160, in Parking Structure facing Court Theatre) 
  • 7:30 PM Teams drive to the three South and Southwest Side sites that UChicago is supporting
  • 8 PM Brief training at site; formation of mixed-group counting teams (with volunteers from around Chicago); assignment of designated canvassing areas
  • 9 PM - 1 AM Canvassing in designated area(s) of the city, stopping to deliver hats/gloves and collect information from homeless persons
  • 1:30 AM Return to site to return survey materials
  • 2 AM Groups return to campus (once each vehicle's assigned volunteers have ALL checked in)


Click here to learn more about the Count from this 2014 South Side Weekly article by reporter Jake Bittle, who participated in the Count as a UChicago student.


The count is conducted by teams of volunteers who use personal vehicles (including car share or rented vehicles) to travel throughout the city. By clicking "yes," you are indicating that you HAVE (or have access to) a vehicle and that you would be willing to serve as a DRIVER for a team of volunteers during the hours of the count. If you are NOT willing to drive, or don't have access to a car, please choose NO on this item.
You may choose more than one option, or leave this item blank if you have no preference.