The Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) is an annual estimate to assess the number of individuals living in New York City's public spaces. On the night of HOPE, thousands of volunteers are assembled and sent out in teams to survey New York's streets, subways and parks. Conducted by the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS), HOPE is a point-in-time estimate of unsheltered individuals to project service needs, allocate resources for the street homeless population, and educate and engage New Yorkers.
HOPE serves to increase public accountability and continually evaluate and improve the programming designed to help street homeless New Yorkers. The event began in Manhattan in 2003 and has expanded Citywide every year since 2005. The City employs a rigorous methodology endorsed as the gold standard by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Cities wishing to draw down funding from the McKinney-Vento Act aimed at homelessness are required to conduct biennial point-in-time surveys of their unsheltered populations, but New York City began its survey before this requirement even existed.
HOPE is an integral part of New York City's approach to addressing homelessness.The annual survey:
- Provides a consistent year-to-year measure of its programs to help those living on the streets move into transitional and permanent housing.
- Provides the City with a galvanizing tool to measure its outreach strategies. In September 2007, New York City redesigned its outreach services, establishing a single accountable provider of services in each borough. HOPE highlights areas where outreach providers are successfully moving people off the streets, and where there is room for improvement. In fact, based on the increasing number of homeless individuals counted in the subway during the HOPE count, DHS responded proactively by teaming up with the MTA to work together to develop an innovative subway outreach strategy, which, along with incorporating evidence-based practices proven to work, greatly expands outreach efforts throughout the subway system and allows us to reach some of our most vulnerable clients.
- Provides thousands of New Yorkers with an opportunity to help New York's homeless individuals, and contribute to New York City's efforts against homelessness.