THUNDER BAY — Groups that work with the homeless in the Thunder Bay district will try this weekend to get a better understanding of the scope of the problem.
A Point in Time count will anonymously document the number of people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness.
It's the first time a PiT count has been conducted since 2018, when 516 people without permanent housing were identified.
The project includes a survey to collect information on the characteristics of homeless people such as age, gender, Veteran status and Indigenous identity, including those who are couch-surfing, staying in shelters or sleeping outside.
Organizers say the results will be used to direct resources to areas of greatest need and to connect people to support services to help them achieve stable housing.
Trained volunteer canvassers will gather the data.
Because the count is a "snapshot," it is not intended to be a measure of everyone who experiences homelessness over time, and will not include all those who cycle in and out of homelessness.
The project is funded by the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB), and conducted in partnership with the Lakehead Social Planning Council and Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, with support from the Rural Cupboard Food Bank and People Advocating Change through Empowerment (PACE).
Regular PiT counts are required by the Ontario government under the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, which the social services board manages in this area.
In the city, the 24-hour count will take place at the CLE Coliseum, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, but volunteers will also visit numerous other locations.
In the district, the count will happen at the Rural Cupboard Food Bank in Conmee, and at PACE offices in Nipigon, Schreiber, Greenstone and Marathon.