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Frequently Asked Questions

What is HOPE?

The Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) is an annual survey conducted during the last 10 days in January to estimate the number of unsheltered individuals in New York City. Each year thousands of volunteers are needed to canvass areas across the city to survey people about their housing status.

What will I do as a volunteer?

Volunteers register for a HOPE site among the many across the city. Volunteer training will be provided via video and webinar prior to the night of HOPE. On the night of HOPE, volunteers arrive at their site by 10pm (or designated time) and are assigned to teams of 2 to 4 people. All necessary materials are provided onsite (additional instructions, PPE, volunteer badges, etc.). Around midnight teams are deployed to canvass their assigned areas and collect survey data via an app on their phone. You and your team will conduct a brief survey with each individual you encounter that is designed to assess each person’s housing situation and offer transportation to shelter to any homeless individual seeking services. Canvassing can last until 4am at which time you will contact your site leader to check out remotely before going home. Click here to watch the volunteer training video.

When is HOPE?

HOPE usually occurs during the last 10 days in January and is conducted overnight after shelter curfew. This year, HOPE 2024 will take place on Tuesday January 23rd, 2024. While we ask that you prepare to be out until 4am, many volunteer teams complete their assignments earlier.

If there is inclement weather, the back-up date for HOPE 2024 will be Tuesday January 30th.

How do I sign up for HOPE?

Click here to register for HOPE. You can also register for HOPE by clicking on the blue “register here” button at the top of this page! All volunteers must be at least 16 years old. Those who are 16 or 17 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What happens if I need to cancel my registration or change my HOPE volunteer site?

In order to cancel or your registration or change your HOPE volunteer site, you can simply log back into your account on the registration portal page and do so there.

Click here to return to the registration portal to change or cancel your registration.

Can my friends, family or co-workers volunteer with me?

Yes! People that want to volunteer together should register for the same HOPE site. It is important to remember that sites are filled on a first come, first served basis, so please register as soon as possible. Try to arrive at a site together and let your site leader know you want to volunteer as a group. Group sizes cannot exceed certain sizes so you may need to split up.

What does it mean to be a team leader?

Team leaders are responsible for managing teams of volunteers. Assisting team members in understanding the survey methods, and ensuring that each member of their team is as effective as possible. Volunteers may also look to the team leader for guidance on approaching and interacting with homeless individuals.

What are the safety and security measures provided for volunteers?

Volunteers work in teams of two to four people and are instructed to remain with their fellow volunteers at all times. No one should conduct this survey on their own. We do not send volunteers into abandoned buildings or private establishments; the survey is limited to public streets, parks, and subway stations. Staff remain at the training sites throughout the night to stay in contact with volunteer teams via cell phone. No one should continue to canvass an area if they feel unsafe – let your site leader know and we can make other arrangements. Based on NYPD’s recommendations, police officers will accompany some volunteer teams to ensure their safety. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we recommend that volunteers are vaccinated and wear masks while indoors and while canvassing. Masks and other PPE will be provided. Spaces will be arranged to promote social distancing and training and dismissal will occur remotely.

What if I have more questions?

Please complete the email form on our contact page and someone will get back to you shortly. You can also send the HOPE team an email at [email protected] or call the HOPE Hotline at 646-783-8716 for more information.