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Annual Homeless Census

On January 29, 2020, volunteers gathered at City Hall to help us better quantify homelessness in Boston.

In the annual Homeless Census, volunteers, along with Mayor Martin Walsh, go out through all neighborhoods of Boston to survey and offer shelter and services to people staying on the street.

Still have questions? Contact:
Neighborhood Development
26 Court Street
8th, 9th, and 11th Floors
Boston, MA 02108-2501

From Homeless to Home

Homeless census 200108 (1200)

To end chronic homelessness, we need to understand the scope of the problem.

To do that, each year the City of Boston conducts a Homeless Census, where we tally the number of people living on the street, in shelters, or in living situations other than permanent housing.

How it works

The Homeless Census counts people in two ways.  We track how many people are using services, like emergency shelters, transitional housing, and treatment programs. At the same time, we collect information about household demographics, income level, family size, and the community of origin for each person.  

Together, this data helps us understand who we are serving, and what gaps there are in our services.  It helps us understand our priorities, so we can design even better policies. Census results also inform federal funding, and help measure progress in our efforts to prevent and end homelessness. 


Thank you for your interest in supporting the City of Boston Annual Homeless Census. Volunteer registration is now closed. We regret that we cannot accommodate everyone interested in becoming a volunteer and invite you to explore other ways to help end homelessness in Boston in the section below.

Other ways you can help

  • Friends of Boston's Homeless is dedicated to helping people move beyond homelessness into stability. View more information about volunteer opportunities. 
  • Whether they work in the kitchen, distribute clothing, or assist with mock interviews, volunteers help ensure the quality of St. Francis' services for Boston’s poor and homeless.
  • More than 5,000 volunteers every year help Pine Street Inn provide shelter, housing and other crucial services to homeless men and women. Donations of time and talent help us continue the mission of ending homelessness.

Sheltered Census Trainings

Trainings and submission instructions for the 2021 sheltered census will be added soon. If you have a question in the meantime, please contact our HMIS Help Desk.

Trainings were conducted the week of January 21, 2019, on the collection of and submission of data regarding clients utilizing shelter services on the night of January 30, 2019. The trainings were held for:

  • providers of emergency shelter
  • transitional housing, and
  • safe havens.