Training School - City counts in Europe, 25-27 September 2018, Belgium


June 15, 2018

Event Date:

September 25, 2018 - September 27, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - Training School - City counts in Europe, 25-27 September 2018, Belgium

Training School - City counts in Europe


There is a growing knowledge base concerning measuring homelessness at local and national level. This training school focuses on the different methodical approaches to measure homelessness at city level. It helps actors in this field to decide why and how to undertake a count on homelessness in their city. The training school has a strong scientific and societal orientation: practical and methodological expertise will be shared between the organisers and the participants. 

Definition of a city count of homeless people

A city count of homeless people is a point in time headcount or a survey of homeless people or users of services for homeless people or a both, possibly combined with other data sources of homeless persons. There doesn’t exist a universal strategy for planning and implementing a city count. Each city has to develop a tailor-made method using instruments based on local context (city topography, infrastructure, interests of the initiators, the relevant stakeholders). To compare various dimensions of the data collection with other cities on national/federal/international level the use of the ETHOS or ETHOS Light typology can be useful. This typology was developed by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) and is acknowledged by the European Union as the definition of homelessness. 


The programme is organized around key questions which have an impact on the strategy, selected methods and instruments of the city count and the subgroups of homelessness people who are counted. The organisers invite the participants to discuss fundamental questions about measuring on a city level and sharing knowledge concerning the practical organisation of a count. Next to the examples and lessons learned from city counts in Budapest, Brussels, Bratislava and Basel participants have the opportunity to present their experiences or ask questions if they plan a city count. 

Overview of the sessions and key questions 

Session 1: What is a city count? Introduction to basic theoretical approaches in city counts. Prof. Dr. Koen Hermans, Centre for sociological research and LUCAS, KU Leuven, Chair of the Cost Action

  • What is a city count? (survey/headcount/combination)
  • What are the other options? (administrative data, client survey...)
  • Who do we count? (ETHOS and ETHOS light and how it can be used in city counts)
  • What methods are available to gather reliable data on homeless people in the city and what are their limits? (observation, short interview, capture, re-capture...) 

Session 2: What methods are used in the participating cities? 

  • Introduction of the organisers from Brussels, Bratislava, Budapest and Basel
  • Introduction of the participants (where they come from, which organisation they represent, whether they are preparing a city count)
  • Expectations from the training school, three most important questions / challenges they have to face (or they think they would have to face) when preparing a city count 

Session 3: What are the purposes of a city count?

  • Scientific, political and practical goals and interests
  • Purposes of the initiator and the funder
  1. NGO / empowering the homeless people / Brussels
  2. Municipality/legal obligation or voluntary participation
  3. Private Foundation / financial conflict / Basel
  • Ethical issues: which negative consequences of counts for homeless people can occur? How to realise an ‘informed consent’?
  • Consequences for the scope of the count (access to the field, selected method, legal obligation or voluntary participation, ownership of the collected data, recurrence of the city count)

Session 4: Who is counted is a matter of time and place? The value of co-designing the count with stakeholders.

  • Is there a homelessness sector present and what is the variety of services? 
  1. Who has access to the services?
  2. Selection of participating services. Are the services obligated to take part in the count?
  3. What kind of institutions are not taking part, and why?
  4. Are there stakeholders in other sectors or public services? 
  5. Scale of the city count: all or selected public places (‘hotspots’ or the whole territory? 
  • When does the city count take place? What are the purposes for setting this day? 
  1. Winter, spring, summer or autumn
  2. Day, evening or night o Period of data collection: during one hour, a day or one or more weeks?
  3. How to prevent double counting? 
  • Consequences for the common understanding of what is homelessness (based on the categories of ETHOS/ETHOS Light typology), exclusion of or focus on subgroups of homeless persons, selected method, designing a questionnaire on the type of enumerators

Session 5: Why and how a survey as part of the city count? Measuring extent, profile or trajectories of homeless people. 

  • Who is counting?
  1. How to identify homeless people? What are the pros and cons of involving volunteers/professionals / staff of the institutions as enumerators and as interviewers?
  2. How to train interviewers and observers?
  • In what circumstances it may be useful to organise a survey as a part of city count?
  • Who would be surveyed – every counted person vs. some sort of sampling? 
  1. Self-filled / not self-filled
  2. Type of street count
  3. Relationship question – no-participate (Indirect count e.g. by informants, experts who surveyed something)
  4. How to motivate the target group to participate (Homeless people, field workers, organisations etc.)?

Session 6: Which questions are useful in surveys?

  • What is the implication of each question?
  • What are the ethical issues contained in a survey?
  • Each area of interest = set of questions – which areas are the highest priority?
  • Specific areas of interest, e. g. experience with physical attacks, hunger…?
  • How to ask questions on homelessness trajectories?
  • How to ask questions in sensitive areas of interest – health issues, alcohol and drug addiction, regular income…?
  • How many questions can be included? 

Session 7: How to validate the results and the quality of the collected data? Feedback from all stakeholders

  • How did we record the data and what statistical tools did we use to proceed them?
  • Did we collect feedback from volunteers? From homeless people? From our partners? What did we learn from that which might be useful for the participants?
  • Is the quality of the data validated by field workers, academics, stakeholders?
  1. Accurate numbers or estimations? 
  2. Evolution and trends? 
  3.  Representative for other periods or moments (snapshot) 
  4. Representative for the whole city
  5. Possibilities to transfer results to other cities, regions or at national-level - scope of the study, representativity of the results? 
  • Are there synergies possible and relevant stock data? 
  1. combine data / other data sources / how to 
  2. tracking people

Session 8: What is the ‘best’ dissemination strategy? 

  • Product: Report, maps, fact sheets, video, political brief…
  • Public relation: Chances and risks when preparing a press release
  • Impact on policy makers 
  • Impact on support services for the homeless and other vulnerable people
  • Impact on related policy domains (e.g. housing, health care, support for addicts , immigration, youth care)

Closing session 

  • Let’s come back to our expectations and challenging questions from the beginning of the training school: do we know how these were approached in the three cities? How we could approach them in our own contexts?
  • Open discussion to answer remaining questions and share views … 

Target group

Academic researchers, city administration, representatives of NGOs, national and local policy makers, students (master/PhD). Maximum number of participants is 25.


Due to the limited places, we encourage you to send a short motivation letter (max. 1000 characters) to the local organizer by email. In the selection process, representation of applicants from different countries and cities will be considered and priority will be given to applicants with experience in homelessness counts and surveys, homelessness research, and homeless service delivery and policy. Please send your motivation letter and formal application to


Travel and accommodation costs for participants will be covered by EU-COST according to reimbursement regulations More information:


La Strada, Support center for the homeless sector in the Brussels Region, Verenigingstraat 15, Rue de l'Association Brussel, 1000 Brussels

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Event Type
Publish Date
May 30, 2018
Link To Original