“Each January, communities across the United States—organized in Continuums of Care (CoCs)—conduct comprehensive point-in-time counts of families and individuals experiencing homelessness. Using local electronic administrative records, communities collect information about people sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing on a given night. In addition, outreach workers and volunteers conduct a census of people sleeping on the streets, in cars, in abandoned properties, or in other places not meant for human habitation. The State of Homelessness in America series and prior reports by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (the Alliance) on the incidence and prevalence of homelessness use community point-in-time counts as the measure of homelessness. These data are the only source that captures both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness for every community and state in the nation. The point-in-time counts are not without limitations, especially the unsheltered censuses, as there are variations in methodology across communities and within communities across years. However, the annual process results in the most reliable estimate of people experiencing homelessness in the United States. The most recently available national data are from the January 2012 point-in-time count. This count identified 633,782 people experiencing homelessness on one night in January 2012. This translates to a national homeless rate of 20 per 10,000 people. This chapter will provide further analysis to provide a more detailed portrait of the populations that experience homelessness in the United States.”
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