Atlanta’s annual count of people facing homelessness is underway. The point in time or “Pit” count happens in January and determines federal funding. GPB’s Amanda Andrews has more.

Atlanta is collaborating with local organizations to complete its annual count of unhoused people in the city. The point in time or "PIT" count happens each January to determine federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires cities to conduct a once-every-two-years survey of unhoused people. The city of Atlanta counts yearly instead, working with agencies such as Partners for Home to gather the information. Their organization is focused on coordinating business and outreach efforts to end homelessness in Atlanta.

Together, they send out around 200 volunteers over several days to compile demographic information in separate daytime and overnight shifts. During the day shift, volunteers visit shelters and service organizations around the city such as Covenant House, CHRIS 180 and the Good Samaritan Clinic, among others.

Partners for Home CEO Cathryn Vassell said they also look for trends in the data they gather.

“Since 2020, we've seen an overall reduction of 38% of our homeless population overall,” she said.

Last year, the survey determined just over 2,000 people met the criteria for homelessness, down from more than 3,000 in 2020.

The count, which runs through Jan. 30., gives federal policymakers an idea of how many people need resources and what housing strategies are working. Vassell said that survey results show what areas they need to focus on.

“We're looking at things like the number of people who report experiencing a mental health or addiction issue,” she said, "and that number has actually gone up a little bit."

Data from the PIT count is typically released in late spring and hosted on the Partners for HOME website. Starting in February, Partners for Home will begin creating a new strategic plan for 2023 that will determine how to best spend funding based on community input.