An annual Homeless Census is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of all Continuums of Care throughout the country. It may also be referred to as a Point in Time Count, and is comprised of a count of those in shelter and transitional housing (Shelter Count) and those experiencing unsheltered homelessness (Unsheltered Count). In Southern Nevada, the Homeless Census consists of many activities that occur annually during the last 10 days of January:
- An urban count is conducted during which volunteers canvass Las Vegas/Clark County neighborhoods to obtain a visual count of unsheltered homeless individuals and families, who are living in places not meant for human habitation, like on the streets or in cars, parks and abandoned buildings.
- A youth count has been conducted during school hours during which volunteers canvass public places to obtain a visual count of unsheltered, unaccompanied youth. School district personnel also provide a count of homeless students.
- Homeless service providers conduct a shelter count of the people in their transitional housing and shelter programs.
- Specialized teams of outreach workers and volunteers canvass the tunnels under Las Vegas to obtain a count of people living in those areas.
- Volunteers and Code Enforcement perform a count in remaining rural areas.
- Volunteers and homeless service providers conduct a survey to develop more insight into the needs and experiences of people experiencing homelessness, including causes of homelessness and unique characteristics of homeless subpopulations like youth, adults or families.