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Tracking Methodology

At Tipping Point, we committed to impact and creating sustainable change. Our Chronic Homelessness Initiative (CHI) is arguably our boldest effort yet. Setting audacious goals was the easy part. Creating community partnerships and innovative approaches is firmly in our wheelhouse; it is in difficult work that we thrive. Tracking progress against our stated goals and measuring program impact is a defining characteristic Tipping Point. In this instance, it took some ingenuity as the chronically homeless tend to be among our least visible and documented community members. While our approach is by no means perfect, it is thoughtful and sound, and we proactively improve upon it as additional insight and data allows.

Our Approach

After exploring all options and weighing the benefits and challenges of each, we made the decision to base our chronically homeless figures and projections upon the City & County of San Francisco Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Count that is conducted every two years in January. While the PIT count is imperfect, great effort has gone into making it as inclusive and meaningful as possible; it may in fact be the best of its kind.  The PIT, the results of which are required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to receive federal funding, is universally referenced at national, state and local levels. Given this, TPC felt it prudent to utilize the PIT (HUD version) as our starting point.

We used the 2017 PIT to provide the actual number of chronically homeless. We then projected the growth in the chronically homeless (inflow) using the average growth in this population over the previous 10 years – a period that encompassed a strong economy, a recession, endless policy changes and continued refinement in PIT methodology – for 2018. In 2019, we again used PIT actuals, updating our figures retroactively. We then once again projected total chronically homeless counts through 2022, the year our CHI effort ends.

The Covid-19 pandemic was an unforeseen challenge and has created – at this juncture – immeasurable disruption. Its impact will be disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable. Acknowledging this, we increased the rate of growth in the chronically homeless population by an additional 20% from 2020 forward.

After determining what chronic homeless might look like in absolute numbers, we then tracked the ways in which chronic homelessness will be resolved through placements or prevention.


We use two categories of housing placements.  The first is net new living arrangements created by City and County policies that are actually funded. The second is successful placements due to three programs – Problem Solving, Rising Up and Rapid Rehousing – that enable chronically homeless to retain secure and stable housing.


Prevention identifies homeless individuals who were diverted from becoming chronically homelessness as a direct result of participating in a prevention programmed specifically designed for this purpose such as Rising Up, Spark, Launch Pads and Step up to Freedom. These TPC supported programs have had proven success in the nascent field of chronic homelessness prevention. We hope to see learnings from these efforts used to expand and replicate additional programs as they have proven successful.

By projecting out the number of chronically homeless and identifying concrete opportunities for exit, we produced a quarter-by-quarter analysis that demonstrates the net change in the chronically homeless population. As you will see in the dashboard, we project our goal of reducing chronic homelessness will be achieved through a mix of placement and prevention strategies.

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