Enumerating the Hidden Homeless: Strategies to Estimate the Homeless Gone Missing From a Point-in-Time Count

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Abstract

To receive federal homeless funds, communities are required to produce statistically reliable, unduplicated counts or estimates of homeless persons in sheltered and unsheltered locations during a one-night period (within the last ten days of January) called a point-in-time (PIT) count. In Los Angeles, a general population telephone survey was implemented to estimate the number of unsheltered homeless adults who are hidden from view during the PIT count. Two estimation approaches were investigated: i) the number of homeless persons identified as living on private property, which employed a conventional household weight for the estimated total (Horvitz-Thompson approach); and ii) the number of homeless persons identified as living on a neighbor’s property, which employed an additional adjustment derived from the size of the neighborhood network to estimate the total (multiplicity-based approach). This article compares the results of these two methods and discusses the implications therein.

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