“I CAN SEE YOU’RE EAGER TO MARK THAT FORM,” Adam says, taking a swift
drag of his cigarette as he leads another volunteer and me down Bridgeway in Sausalito
hours before dawn. “I know every single homeless person in this city; I could fill that whole
thing out in three minutes.”
The form in question is part of the Point-in-Time Count (PIT), a biennial event that
attempts to account for all the homeless individuals nationwide. Taking place during the
last 10 days of January, the count is required of all counties receiving federal funding allo-
cated toward homelessness by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Carried out by Applied Survey Research, a social research firm that conducts impact evalua-
tions and assessments, the count focuses on individuals or families with primary nighttime
residences that are not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations
for human beings. This criterion includes cars, parks, abandoned buildings, buses or train
stations, airports, camping grounds and — something pretty unique to Marin — anchor-outs
in Richardson Bay. After the tally, about 300 individuals, representing a broad spectrum
of the population, complete an in-depth survey. When it comes to getting a snapshot of the
current status of homelessness locally, this is the tool.
To help with the count, 15 volunteers gather at the Marin City Health and Wellness
Center in Sausalito at 5 in the morning on January 27, carrying flashlights and wearing
heavy jackets and athletic shoes. Similar groups of people also congregate in San Rafael and
Novato. Before deployment — in order to get counters to the right spots — volunteers are
paired up with guides who either currently are or have been homeless in the past.
Falling Through the
A look at the state of
homelessness in the county.
BY KASIA PAWLOWSKA
ILLUSTRATION BY BRIAN STAUFFER