A Homeless Enumeration is a community-level count and survey of people experiencing homelessness at a particular point in time. These are mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, but they are conducted regularly in other jurisdictions in Canada and beyond.
Most homeless enumerations in Ontario use a combined methodology of a PiT (Point in Time) count, as well as a survey to try to glean more information that communities can then act on to improve our understanding of homelessness, inform efforts to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in a given community as well as long-term strategies to prevent and reduce homelessness, and more.
The website for the one here in Simcoe County reads “Our goal is to end homelessness in Simcoe County. The data we gather helps us do that.”
I wrote that sentence. I have supported our communications efforts through four enumerations.
We do gather some good data from enumerations that help us better understand the demographics we are trying to support - how many people, what type of housing they want and where, what barriers they face - but the more I am learning (and unlearning) about homelessness, the less I believe that the enumeration we are doing supports ending homelessness. In fact, I now believe it perpetuates harmful stereotypes.
I'm Jennifer. I am an advocacy and communications strategist working with multiple charities and nonprofits. And I want to disrupt our sector for good.