racCONTAMI 2024


5th Homeless Census in Milan

12-16 February 2024

Objectives and organisation

The 'racCONTAMI' initiative, a data collection on homeless people in Milan, will take place on 12-16 February 2024. The project is promoted by the Municipality of Milan in collaboration with the Fondazione Ing. Rodolfo Debenedetti. The Bocconi University’s LEAP (Laboratory for Effective Anti-Poverty Policies) and many associations working in the field of homeless services are also collaborating to the project.

The initiative involves a large-scale mobilization aimed at collecting, at a given time of the year, the number of homeless people in the Milan area. The aim of the project is to provide a reliable snapshot of the phenomenon in order to better understand the profiles and needs of homeless people and the dynamics that lead to marginality and extreme poverty in our city.

The 2024 data collection will be the fifth, following those of June 2023 and winter 2018, 2013 and 2008, of which it is intended as a natural continuation.

The winter 2024 data collection will take place:

  • On Monday 12 February 2024. During the night, teams of at least 3 volunteers will move within assigned areas of the city in order to count (and interview) homeless people. The city areas will mainly be covered on foot, but in some cases your own means of transport (bicycle, car) will be needed. The activity will take place approximately between 20 p.m. and 1 a.m.
  • From Tuesday 13 to Friday 16 February 2024. Groups of volunteers will carry out interviews with homeless people hosted in night shelters. The interviews will mainly take place in the evening hours (approximately 18 p.m. and 22 p.m)

How to participate

The initiative will involve the entire municipality of Milan and requires a large-scale mobilization of volunteers and associations active in the city: we will need about 1000 volunteers, especially on the night of Monday 12 February!

We will greatly appreciate the contribution of all those who feel predisposed to contact with people living in great distress, those who have civil protection skills or experience in services targeting homeless people, and also simple citizens interested in contributing to this initiative.

Volunteer registration closed on 4 February. Thank you to all those who have signed up to get involved!

Volunteer training

Volunteers are required to attend a two-hour training session in the weeks prior to the survey. During the training, details of the initiative will be presented. Volunteers will have the opportunity to receive all information about their involvement and clarify any doubts.

Training sessions will take place at various locations in the city. Most training sessions will be organized in the evenings, to facilitate workers and citizens wishing to participate.

For more information write to raccontami2024@gmail.com.

Here are the training materials:



The "expert" slides are designed for those who have already participated in previous racCONTAMI editions.

Finally, we share a presentation on the System "Grave Marginalità Adulta", by the Municipality of Milan.

Headcount form and questionnaires

In order to prepare for the survey, it is important to be familiar with the survey instruments that will be used on the evening of 12 February and in the following days.

Below racCONTAMI volunteers can find trial versions of the ‘headcount form’ and questionnaires. Paper versions of the questionnaires will be added shortly.

Survey instruments 12 June:

  • HEADCOUNT FORM: [removed]
  • ROUGH SLEEPER QUESTIONNAIRE - Online version: [removed]
  • ROUGH SLEEPER QUESTIONNAIRE - Paper version: [removed]

Survey instruments 13-16 June:

Why a data collection on homelessness?

A data collection like “racCONTAMI” is a tool to quantify the phenomenon of extreme poverty in an urban context. The condition of homelessness is so severe that one of its consequences is to be cut off from society, to become invisible to others. For this reason, the phenomenon is under-researched and only marginally considered in the public debate.
This data collection aims to provide a snapshot of extreme poverty in Milan and to collect information on the causes of homelessness and the characteristics of those who sleep on the streets and in the night shelters active in the city. Such data will provide a better understanding of the needs and criticality of this condition and its evolution over time. Finally, the data can be useful in programming services and interventions to combat severe marginality more effectively.

Who are the homeless?

The target population of this survey are homeless people who do not have a home in the strict sense of the word. This includes anyone who spends the night on the street or in a public place not intended for human habitation, such as benches, parking lots, building hallways, public gardens, train station areas, hospital waiting rooms, cars and vans. Also included in the reference population are those staying in emergency shelters in the territory of the Municipality of Milan. Both Italian and foreign citizens, legal or not, will be counted and interviewed.

Why become a volunteer?

Everyone can find a good reason to become a racCONTAMI volunteer. Volunteering for a short period of time is an easy way to help our city. But a volunteer experience is also an opportunity for personal enrichment and growth.
For those who are thinking of getting involved with one of the existing services for people living in extreme poverty, it can be an opportunity to connect with associations that are active in the area and to test yourself in the field. For those who see people living on the streets every day and wonder why, it can be a way to understand. For social science students, it can be an opportunity for field experience. For those involved in large events, it can be an opportunity to participate in logistics management. For policy makers and practitioners, it can be an opportunity to identify innovative forms of intervention to address the problem. By giving a voice and a face to the invisible, it will be easier for everyone to address social issues such as extreme poverty and homelessness in an informed way, without false platitudes.
Becoming a volunteer is the first step in helping our city fight homelessness!

Is it necessary to attend the training session?

Yes. The training session, which lasts about 2 hours, is necessary to participate in the data collection activities. The purpose of the training is to provide all the practical information related to the project. The different roles of the volunteers (enumerators, interviewers, accompanying person) will be explained. For example, how to approach homeless people during interviews, how to collect information, and how conduct and interview and to fill out the questionnaire. Time will also be spent answering questions and clarifying any doubts that volunteers may have.

With whom will I conduct the data collection activities?

On the night of the street data collection, volunteers will work in teams (3-4 people) that will be heterogeneously composed in terms of gender, age, previous experience with homelessness, and civil protection/health skills. Anyone who would like to conduct the activities with someone they already know can indicate this on the registration form by filling out the appropriate “pair form”. Pairs of volunteers who sign up at the same time will be assigned to the same team.
On subsequent evenings, volunteers will be gathered at overnight reception centers, where they will be met by a coordinator and will be able to help conduct interviews.

Is it necessary to speak Italian? Is it necessary to speak a foreign language?

At least an intermediate level of Italian is required to participate in the activities, in order to attend the training and to interact with other volunteers during the data collection.
Foreign language skills are highly valued (but not a compulsory requirement). A significant percentage of homeless people are foreigners: knowledge of foreign languages can facilitate contact and interviewing.

Are there any security issues I need to be aware of?

In a project like this, safety is a matter of preparation. The goal is not to put the volunteers at risk.
Training activities will provide all volunteers with the information they need to move safely and interact with homeless people in places where they spend the night. Volunteer teams often include experienced members who will enable the team to operate safely in assigned areas. Volunteers will not enter abandoned buildings or places that may be risky. Any risky areas are flagged in advance by law enforcement authorities and will be handled by special teams or excluded from the survey. Finally, all volunteers are insured against injury for project-related activities.

Can minors participate?

It is possible for minors aged 16-17 to participate, as long as they register as a pair with an adult and their parents fill out an appropriate waiver.

After registration, pairs of volunteers including one minor will be contacted by the organizers to fill out the appropriate waiver.

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