5 Minute Requests


"I have studied many languages-French, Spanish and a little Italian, but no one told me that Statistics was a foreign language.” 
― Charmaine J. Forde  

Most people who have partnered with Homeward’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Margot Ackermann, know that Margot has an incredible ability to translate the conversations we have with people experiencing homelessness into data and information that tells our community how we are doing in our collective efforts to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time. Margot oversees the Homeward Community Information System (HCIS) and the regional point-in-time counts. These two data sources together provide both cross-sectional data (snapshots of homelessness on a given day) and longitudinal data (trends over time). These data sources provide powerful and compelling information for all of us as we work together to continuously improve our coordinated response to the crisis of homelessness.  Full reports can be found here:

At Homeward, we use data which comes from the conversations with people in crisis to guide our planning and support functions for the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care. Margot and Kelly King Horne, Homeward’s Executive Director, have worked together since 2007. Along with the other staff members at Homeward, Margot and Kelly have developed a productive partnership to use data on homelessness in our community to drive decision-making. Often, Kelly will ask Margot for insight into a community issue based on available data. In order to gauge whether the question is readily available for analysis or if the request would require complicated data matching and statistical analysis, Kelly will ask Margot if her request is a “5 minute request.” These 5 minute requests typically address specific questions asked by our partners or potential partners about the experiences of subpopulations experiencing homelessness  or potential overlaps between homeless services and other systems of care.

In 2019, we want to share these insights with all of you. We hope you find our “5 minute requests” useful and invite you to submit suggestions for future data insights to These newsletters will also be archived on the Homeward website at

2019 Winter Point-in-Time Count

We are pleased to announce that our community continues to see decreases in the single day count of people staying in shelters or sleeping outdoors. The decreases can be attributed to our community’s adoption of a housing first approach and our coordinated network’s focus on serving the most vulnerable. Our data-driven collaborative approach to addressing homelessness is among the strongest in the nation and our service providers are recognized nationally for their commitment to high quality.
January 2018-2019 PIT Count Totals
Totals 2019 2018
Total population 559 609
Total sheltered 407 505
Total unsheltered 152 104
Total Veterans 82 94
Total children 68 74

From Unsheltered to Shelter

While we are seeing decreases in the single day count, the percentage of people served by emergency and longer-term shelters (transitional housing and Safe Havens) who are coming straight from living outside has greatly increased in recent years. The percentage of clients who entered shelter from a place not meant for human habitation increased 73% from 2015-2018. Over the same time period, the total number of clients served by these programs remained steady. This is evidence that our collaborative efforts to engage the region's most vulnerable clients is working. 

Eviction and Homelessness in 2018

During the July 2018 Point-in-Time count, we asked a few questions related to evictions. We surveyed 389 adults experiencing homelessness (out of the 491 adults counted; a 79.2% response rate).  People were asked what the primary cause of their homelessness was, and 34 people (8.7%) indicated that the reason was eviction.

Additionally, those surveyed were asked three questions related to evictions.

In the past three years, have you been kicked out or evicted by your landlord?

104 (26.7%) people indicated that they had been kicked out or evicted in the past three years. Clients who said that they hadn’t are not included in the statistics below.

Where did you live after being kicked out or evicted by your landlord?

Over half of clients indicated that they were homeless after being kicked out or evicted. The most common answer provided was an unsheltered location (40.4% of those who said they had been kicked out/evicted in the previous question), followed by family and friends (26.0%), a hotel/motel (14.4%), shelter (12.5%), their own housing (4.8%), and an institution (1.9%).

Before you were kicked out or evicted, did you get a legal notice saying that you needed to leave the place you lived by a certain date and time?

Of those who said they had been kicked out or evicted, a majority (64.4%) indicated that they had received a legal notice specifying a date/time they needed to leave. 


The Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) is a nationally recognized hybrid pre-screen/triage tool that covers a client's medical risk factors with social risk factors (. Our collaborative network uses this tool across various programs to help connect our community's most vulnerable people with the services they need. Having a VI-SPDAT done is often one of the first steps in the housing process. 

Over the last few weeks, 47.3% of unsheltered clients and 53.5% of cold weather shelter clients had VI-SPDAT scores. This indicates that many of our most vulnerable neighbors are being prioritized for housing using the VI-SPDAT tool. 

A New Lease on Life

A New Lease on Life is a privately funded self-resolution pilot that provides flexible funds for case managers in year-round shelters. Homeward secured this funding in 2018.

Between August and December 2018, the fund helped 42 singles and 5 families (with 16 people) exit to permanent housing. 

Our mailing address is:
9211 Forest Hill Ave
Suite 200-B
Richmond, VA 23235

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