Registry Week

About Registry Week

Registry Week is a method that communities use to gather detailed data on every individual and family experiencing homelessness. The resulting dataset is sometimes referred to as a “by name list.” The information collected during Registry Week assesses and prioritizes people for housing and services, which allows service providers to understand the specific needs of each person experiencing homelessness in the community and to connect people more effectively to the appropriate housing and services. The dataset can also be used to provide high-level, aggregate insight, allowing communities to understand if homelessness is increasing or decreasing over time, along with trends and demographics that will inform programs and policies to address homelessness more effectively.

“There is a lot of marginalization (of homeless people) because they think we are invisible. We are not invisible.

– Charlotte (via Invisible People)


Steps To Collect Registry Week

  • A successful Registry Week requires strong planning and coordination, which usually takes about 3-4 months lead time.
  • Create a stakeholder map and involve as many community members as possible, including workers from all sectors of the community and beyond. Include people with the lived experience of homelessness in every aspect of the planning.
  • Early in the planning phase, it is useful to identify a lead organization to coordinate the logistics of Registry Week.
  • Identify a standard assessment tool that offers a standardized, community-wide set of questions and collects information about everybody experiencing homelessness by name. Most standard assessment tools are inherently biased, so it is critical that an inclusive stakeholder group review and revise the tool to mitigate as much bias as possible.
  • Set up an integrated and secure system or database that collects a two-dimensional list of names and tracks how people experiencing homelessness interact with services. Establish data-sharing agreements or Memorandums of Understanding between partners.
  • All agencies working with the By-Name List database need to be provided with appropriate access/permissions to the database. Data governance procedures around database protections, permissions, and backups need to be established.
  • Determine the geographic and population scope
  • Determine the available resources, lead time, breadth and depth of stakeholder commitment, and the likely demand from different homeless populations.
  • Determine whether to include a capture-recapture component
  • Reach out to organizations providing housing services in each precinct of the geographic area to collect information about exact locations where people sleep. This will allow an appropriate number of teams to be allocated accordingly. Consider including organizations that work with people experiencing “hidden homelessness” (e.g., couch surfers, people living with friends or relatives, families that are living doubled up)
  • Determine how teams are needed and assign them to a particular geographic area.
  • Prepare team surveying kits in advance. Kits can include items such as cash gratuities for respondents completing a survey, maps, a list of contact details for the team and HQ contact number for troubleshooting/hourly check-in calls, surveyor lanyards, flashlights, pens, clipboards, simple first aid supplies and, of course, a sufficient supply of each type of assessment survey based on intelligence previously gathered about the designated survey location.
  • Typically, Registry Weeks are held over the course of one week but may sometimes extend to two weeks in the case of a larger geographic area.
  • Following training, survey teams meet across three early mornings in a row, starting before dawn, to reach their assigned public space locations and conduct assessment surveys with people experiencing street homelessness. Early morning starts are required because it is a critical timeframe to identify who is experiencing homelessness on the streets, in parks, etc.
  • Families and individuals living in temporary or crisis accommodation (such as shelters) or living in their cars should be invited to participate.
  • Evening survey teams should visit service hubs, soup kitchens, or other service locations to ensure access to as many people in need of housing assistance as possible.
  • Compile information from the survey teams and other databases together into one list. Be sure to deduplicate records and clean up data accuracy or entry errors.
  • The quality of information collected should be monitored progressively for accuracy and completeness.
  • The analysis includes key findings related to the demographic composition, and acuity of the need of the population group(s) surveyed, as well as information about their health, homeless history, and psycho-social indicators. These reports should be used by stakeholders to determine additional funding, housing, and service provision needs.
  • Non-identifiable, aggregate data on the results should be presented to the community and to local and state policymakers to help better understand the extent and nature of homelessness in the community. These findings are typically presented during a Community Briefing held on the last day of Registry Week. All community members, including volunteers, workers from all sectors, local leaders, and media personnel, should be encouraged to attend.
  • Ensure that the by-name list does not become a static waitlist. Your list should be a dynamic case conferencing tool designed to continuously guide and assist everyone toward the most appropriate housing intervention with a permanent housing placement goal.


  • Registry week struggles to measure “hidden homelessness” such as couch surfing.

  • Enumerators may miss people who do not appear to be homeless, are well-hidden, or are avoiding being counted.

  • Marginalized populations may be undercounted due to fear of discrimination or stigmatization.

  • Because registry week includes enumerating people living outdoors, weather conditions may affect the accuracy.

  • The count is conducted over a period of 1-2 weeks to count as many people experiencing homelessness as possible, but still likely results in an undercount.

Case Studies

20,000 Homes Registry Week 2018 City of Kawartha Lakes and the County of Haliburton (CKL-H)

As of participating, 20,000 homes in the City of Kawartha Lakes and the County of Haliburton (CKL-H) opted to use the Registry Week methodology for enumeration from May 28th to June 1st, 2018. During that week, trained volunteers and agency staff completed health surveys with individuals and families experiencing homelessness to better understand the picture of homelessness within the area.

The City of Windsor and the Homeless Coalition of Windsor Essex County 2018

In December 2017, the City of Windsor contracted with OrgCode Consulting Inc. to facilitate the development, implementation, and analysis of a comprehensive mixed-methods Point in Time Count and 20,000 Homes Campaign Registry Event planned for April 2018. During Windsor’s Point in Time (PiT) Count and Registry Week, enumeration volunteers engaged with 294 people to complete the homeless enumeration survey approved by the Ontario Ministry of Housing.

Questions About Registry Week

For questions, please email

Additional Resources

This collection of resources contains IGH’s sample policies and procedures, to help you choose an enumeration method. Browse by clicking on the links provided to you.

Zero Project

Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool

Coordinated Entry and Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS)

Registry Week Toolkit

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