Homeless Census Organizations

Project HOME, Valley Youth House, Office of Homeless Services Logos


Project Brief: 

Project HOME & Valley Youth House are Philadelphia non-profit organizations with similar goals of improving the city’s poverty and homelessness. They have hopes of achieving this goal by backing affordable housing, employment, healthcare, and education. Project HOME, Valley Youth House, and the City of Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services work together each year to conduct a Point In Time (PIT) count of the city’s unsheltered homeless persons.


The objective of the yearly PIT count is to:

  • On one night in January, get an accurate snapshot of unsheltered homeless persons in the city of Philadelphia, as mandated by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Gather vital statistics such as; the average amount of time without a home, age, gender, race, and the reason for homelessness.
  • Provide information on resources and services available to individuals experiencing homelessness

Challenges Project HOME & Valley Youth House Faced Prior to GRU:

  • The need to collect data accurately and efficiently and reduce data entry at the end of the count which runs the risk of having discrepancies due to inevitable human error.
  • The need to export and create usable reports.
  • These counts generally occur in the middle of the night in January, fumbling with a pen and paper in low light conditions was not proving to be efficient.
  • Providing volunteers with a safe experience.
  • The ability for the volunteers to branch their questions off to different topics based off of the response given to an initial question.

The Solutions That GRU Provided:

  • Grassroots Unwired was able to design and implement a customized mobile platform on behalf of Project HOME & Valley Youth House.
  • The survey built for them includes detailed question branching to allow for the volunteer to take the question set a different direction based off of the participant’s response to an initial question.
  • The data they collected during survey hours went from the tablets right to the portals at headquarters. End of session data entry was eliminated.
  • The tablets provided the light needed to complete the survey in the dark and the questions are much easier for both the volunteer and participant to read and understand.
  • With the GRU mobile app, Project HOME & Valley Youth House were able to successfully survey and gather vital information from 927 individuals during their 2018 PIT count though the night of 1/24/18-1/25/18.
  • All volunteer locations can be monitored via the GPS on the tablets by the Staging Director creating a safer volunteer experience (see below snap shot of the GRU portal showing canvasser route map tool on the night of the count).

Screenshots from the Philadelphia PIT Count App: