Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts

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Background

What is Homelessness? 

Homelessness is a broad term that encompasses the following:

  • Unsheltered: Living on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation
  • Emergency sheltered: Staying in overnight shelters for people who are homeless, as well as shelters for those impacted by family violence
  • Provisionally accommodated: Those whose accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure
  • Risk of homelessness: Referring to people who are not homeless, but whose current economic and/or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards.

Chronic Homelessness
Adults, youth and families experience chronic homelessness when they have been homeless for at least 6 months.  

By-Name-List (BNL)
A By-Name-List (BNL) is a real-time list of all people experiencing homelessness. The BNL helps service providers prioritize need, track the status change as individuals and families move in and out of homelessness and inform action as we move towards ending chronic homelessness in our community.

What is a Point-in-Time (PiT) Count?

A Point-in-Time (PiT) count is a community-level measure of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness that provides a snapshot of the minimum number of individuals experiencing homelessness on a single night. Typically they are completed every couple of years by communities across Ontario and Canada, following the same methods and standards, which allow some flexibility to adapt the methodology for unique local contexts.

The County of Wellington (the County), in partnership with the Poverty Task Force of Guelph-Wellington (PTFGW) and community partners have carried out Point-in-Time (PiT) counts for the Guelph-Wellington area in 2016, 2018 and again most recently in 2021, known as Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts. 

A PiT count is one of several tools communities can use to understand the scope and extent of homelessness locally.

Learn more about PiT Counts and the County's role in Guelph-Wellington Everyone Counts 

Point-in-Time count results provide a snapshot of the population experiencing homelessness in our community on one particular day. The snapshot includes an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given day, as well as information about certain health/demographic characteristics and information about the needs of people experiencing homelessness. The results are used to monitor trends, help identify needs and help inform service planning; program development and to refine existing services. 

The County is involved with Guelph-Wellington Everyone Counts as part of our responsibilities to plan and manage housing services which includes initiatives to prevent and address homelessness. The County of Wellington is one of 47 designated Service Managers who deliver Housing, Ontario Works and Children's Early Years services on behalf of the province of Ontario in a specific geographic area. For the County, the geographic area includes Guelph and Wellington County (Guelph-Wellington). 

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Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts

Overview

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The Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts survey was conducted over a two-day period across Guelph and Wellington County as part of a coordinated Canada-wide count of individuals experiencing homelessness. The purpose of the G-W Everyone Counts survey is to provide a snapshot of the population experiencing homelessness in our community on one particular day. The snapshot includes an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given day, as well as information about certain demographic characteristics and information about the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Methods

The G-W Everyone Counts Survey was planned and carried out in collaboration with community service agencies that make up the homeless serving system, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC), and in partnership with the Poverty Task Force of Guelph-Wellington (PTFGW).

The Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts enumeration survey of homelessness uses a Point-in-Time Count methodology to count sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night. The survey is voluntary and asks participants about where they stayed on the night of October 20, 2021, their experiences of homelessness as well as  health-related and demographic questions.

 Learn more about our 2021 Everyone Counts methods
A dedicated Indigenous outreach strategy was developed in partnership with Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) which resulted in a magnet event, held one afternoon at the Hope House location in downtown Guelph. The Guelph-Wellington Indigenous Housing Outreach Worker and other Indigenous staff/volunteers were available to complete the survey in a culturally safe space with Indigenous individuals experiencing homelessness.

Youth specific and County specific community partners collaborated to develop targeted outreach strategies to reach youth and County residents experiencing homelessness. In addition, planning efforts also focused on dedicated teams of volunteers who reached out to individuals not accessing emergency shelters.  

Trained teams of volunteers who work in the Guelph-Wellington homeless serving system were deployed across Guelph and Wellington County in shifts over two-days, including early morning and overnight time-slots. The schedule covered diverse locations from emergency shelters, drop-ins; street outreach and known encampment areas in order to provide the greatest possibility of reaching as many individuals experiencing homelessness as possible (sheltered and unsheltered). Staff/volunteers completed surveys alongside participations using a new secure online option or pencil and paper. Staff/volunteers were also able to complete surveys with clients on-site and remotely via telephone. 

In addition to the Everyone Counts enumeration survey, participants were invited to complete a second survey, a needs assessment survey known as the VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool). Participants who complete the VI-SPDAT are added to the Guelph-Wellington By-Name-List (BNL) which helps to connect them to services. Participation in both surveys was completely voluntary and, informed consent was sought for each survey separately. As a token of appreciation, participants were given a gift card.

Thank you to Guelph-Wellington community partners!

We would like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped to plan and carry out the Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts enumeration survey, including the following community agencies and organizations: Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Waterloo Wellington; Community Resource Centre of Centre and North Wellington (CRA); County of Wellington; East Wellington Community Services (EWCS); Family & Children’s Services of Guelph & Wellington County; Guelph Community Health Centre (GCHC); Guelph Police Service; Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination (GWPTF); Hope House; Royal City Mission; Rural Wellington Community Team; Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC); Stepping Stone; Stonehenge; Women in Crisis; and Wyndham House.

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What's new for 2021?

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For the first time, a unique identifier was integrated into the survey which allowed staff to identify and count individuals experiencing homelessness who did not complete the survey and were known to be staying in emergency or domestic violence shelters on October 20, 2021 as well as those actively homeless on the Guelph-Wellington By-Name-List (BNL) in October. The unique identifier was used to ensure no one was counted more than once.

Carrying out a PiT Count of homelessness in the midst of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique set of additional challenges for Guelph-Wellington  Everyone Counts. Changes in how the 2021 Count was carried out compared to previous count in 2018 means the results are not directly comparable. 

Learn more about how G-W 2021 Everyone Counts was different from 2018 Everyone Counts
There were a number of changes in how the 2021 enumeration was completed in Guelph-Wellington which have an influence on the number of surveys completed as well as the overall results. As such, the G-W 2021 Everyone Counts results are not directly comparable to the 2018 Count.

The 2021 results include 185 individuals identified through the survey plus an additional 85 individuals identified through administrative data. By contrast, the 2018 results of 325 individuals is based on survey results (291 individuals + 34 dependent children) and did not include people staying in shelter system who had not completed a survey. Conducting the 2021 Count during the global COVID-19 pandemic also influenced how the G-W Everyone Counts survey was carried out. The 2018 Count involved over 100 staff and volunteers who were deployed in April, over 3 days in Guelph and over a week in Wellington County. In contrast, the 2021 Count took place in the fall, deployed 70 staff and volunteers over 2 days across Guelph and Wellington County, in order to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19.

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Results of Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts

The results of the Everyone Counts Point-in-Time count represents an estimate of the minimum number of people experiencing homelessness in Guelph-Wellington on the day of the survey. The total number includes the number of individuals who completed the survey (n=161) plus the dependent children identified in the survey (n=24) as well as other individuals known to be experiencing homelessness who did not complete the survey (n=85).

270: The minimum number of people experiencing homelessness in Guelph-Wellington on October 20, 2021

The results of the Everyone Counts survey are based on responses of individuals who completed the Everyone Counts survey (n=161) and do not include information about the additional 85 individuals. The responses given by survey participants are summarized and presented in a format that helps us understand more about some of the characteristics of participants and their experiences of homelessness.

Click on the button below to view an infographic summary document for all 161 individuals
who completed the 2021 Everyone Counts survey:

Cover Page of All Participants PiT Count Results

All Participant Results

In addition, we have prepared one-page summaries of results for County, Youth and Indigenous Everyone Counts survey participants.

To view these infographic summaries please click on the buttons below:

Cover Page of County Participants PiT Count Results

County Participant Results

Cover Page of Youth Participants PiT Count Results

Youth Participant Results

Cover Page of Indigenous Participants PiT Count Results

Indigenous Participant Results


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How results will be used

Results from Point-in-Time count enumeration activities like Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts are an opportunity for learning – for service providers to better understand the experiences and needs of individuals in their community who are experiencing homelessness.

By sharing the information collected, we can raise the public’s awareness of the extent of homelessness locally. The results of the Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts is the starting point for conversations, collaborations and renewed commitment to prevent and end homelessness.

 Learn more about how results will be used

The results of the Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts enumeration survey will be used to inform service planning; program development; to refine existing services.  The information collected will help improve programs and services for people experiencing homelessness by directing resources to where they are most needed and to connect people to services and supports to help them achieve stable housing. 

The results will also be used to help fulfill provincial and federal reporting requirements. By completing provincial and national mandates to complete Point-in-Time Counts, our local survey results contribute to snapshots of homelessness both across Ontario and nationally.

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Previous Guelph-Wellington Everyone Counts

Guelph-Wellington 2018 Everyone Counts Results

Guelph-Wellington 2016 Registry-Week Results 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

 What is a Point-in-Time (PiT) Count?

A Point-in-Time (PiT) Count is a strategy used to estimate the extent of homelessness in a community by providing a “snapshot” of homelessness at a particular point in time. The results of Point-in-Time counts provide important information about those individuals experiencing homelessness who staff/volunteers were able to connect with and, who chose to participate by completing a survey. 

 What are the benefits of a Point-in-Time (PiT) Count?
The results from PiT counts can help the service manager and community partners identify gaps, areas where service improvements can be made to catch individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness who may not be connected to services. 
 What are the limitations of a Point-in-Time (PiT) Count?
The results of PiT counts depend on many factors such as the thoroughness of the methods, participation of stakeholders – even the weather can influence the results! It is well known that for any Point-in-Time count, it is impossible to reach everyone in a given community who is experiencing homelessness. For example, individuals experiencing hidden homelessness (e.g., couch surfing) and individuals who are not connected to homeless-serving agencies are less likely to be counted.

For all these reasons, results of Point-in-Time count cannot provide an exact or complete count must be interpreted as an estimate of the minimum number of persons experiencing homelessness in a given community. 

 What other strategies/tools are used to help understand homelessness?
A PiT Count is one of several tools/strategies communities can use to understand the scope and extent of homelessness locally. Some of the other strategies used in the Guelph-Wellington homeless serving system include monitoring of shelter use statistics, prevention and housing stability programmes; as well as integrated health support programmes. In addition, the adoption of a coordinated entry system (CES) and the By-Name-List (BNL) provide real-time data that is monitored continually.

Each of these strategies offer important and unique information about the extent of homelessness in our community as well as insights about the needs of those experiencing homelessness. Ongoing monitoring of many different streams of information allow County of Wellington Housing Services and community partners to develop a more comprehensive picture of homelessness in Guelph-Wellington - valuable data that can be used to plan responsive services and supports to better meet the needs and, to better advocate for system improvements and additional funding.

 What is a By-Name-List (BNL)?

A By-Name-List (BNL) is a real-time list of all people experiencing homelessness in Guelph-Wellington. The BNL helps service providers prioritize need, track the status changes as individuals and families move in and out of homelessness and inform action as we move towards ending chronic homelessness in our community.  

The BNL is managed by the County of Wellington and is an important part of the Guelph-Wellington Coordinated Entry System (CES). The Guelph-Wellington CES was implemented in early 2017 with the goal to improve coordination and service delivery by providing a consistent approach to understanding the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. Learn more about the Guelph-Wellington CES and BNL.

 What do the BNL numbers show?

The BNL shows the number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness as well as the number of individuals moving into and out of homelessness. The BNL numbers fluctuate as people move in and out of homelessness.

Information gathered through the BNL that helps us understand who is coming into the homelessness system (inflow) and who is being housed and leaving the system (outflow).  Tracking inflow/outflow and actively homeless in our community helps us measure progress towards ending chronic homelessness.

 What do unsheltered; emergency sheltered and temporarily sheltered mean?

Unsheltered: Individuals and families are considered unsheltered when they are living on the streets or staying in places not intended for human habitation (e.g., in a bus shelter, abandoned building, vehicle, makeshift shelter, group tenting, in an encampment)

Emergency Sheltered: Individuals and families are considered emergency sheltered when they stay in an emergency homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter or in a motel when they stay is funded by a service agency.  

Temporarily Sheltered: Individuals and families are considered temporarily sheltered when they are staying with friends or family (couch surfing); staying in a hospital, treatment centre, incarcerated (jail, prison, remand centre) or staying in a motel when they stay is self-funded. 

Were individuals and families at risk of experiencing homelessness included in the Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts survey?
Only individuals and families experiencing homelessness on the night of the count (October 20th 2021) were eligible to participate in the Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts survey. Individuals and families at risk of experiencing homelessness who were not eligible. 
 Which agencies & organizations were involved in Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts?
The following community agencies and organizations helped to plan and carry out the Guelph-Wellington 2021 Everyone Counts survey: Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Waterloo Wellington; Community Resource Centre of Centre and North Wellington (CRA); County of Wellington; East Wellington Community Services (EWCS); Family & Children’s Services of Guelph & Wellington County; Guelph Community Health Centre (GCHC); Guelph Police Service; Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination (GWPTF); Hope House; Royal City Mission; Rural Wellington Community Team; Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC); Stepping Stone; Stonehenge; Women in Crisis; and Wyndham House.

Contact Us

Have a question? Want more information? Please email us at housingstability@wellington.ca.

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