Homelessness rises in Colorado in 2017, but Denver’s count dropped
Colorado’s homeless population rose almost 4 percent since the last count in 2016, mirroring an increase nationally, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Escalating housing costs have played a part in the increase, HUD Rocky Mountain deputy regional administrator Eric Cobb said in a statement.
“It is more important than ever that we work together to create and maintain affordable housing to ensure that the families, veterans, and youth of our communities have quality places to live,” Cobb said.
Bucking the trend is the metro Denver area, where overall homelessness fell 3.8 percent.
And though Colorado’s numbers have grown in the past two years, with a 13 percent rise in 2016, the state has experienced a 29.3 percent decrease in homelessness in the past 10 years.
Chris Conner, interim director of Denver’s Road Home, said the point-in-time report reflects seven years of work to resolve homelessness throughout the metro region.
“However, while we may see progress in the numbers, we do not declare our victories as proportional,” Conner said in a statement. “We find victories in ending homelessness each day for these individuals and families. But we also find challenge with each day that delivers a new person in need to the doors of our providers.”
During one night in late January, tens of thousands of volunteers across the nation counted people living on the streets and in homeless shelters.
The Colorado volunteers counted 10,940 homeless people statewide. Of those, 7,081 lived in emergency shelters or transitional housing and 3,859 slept in vehicles on the streets and riverbanks.
There some bright spots in the HUD report. Veterans without homes decreased 8.7 percent to 1,078, a plunge of 103 persons since January 2016. Since 2010, homelessness among veterans declined 18.1 percent in Colorado.
The number of Colorado families with children experiencing homelessness declined 17.8 percent since 2016 and 57.4 percent since 2010.
The annual HUD annual point-in-time count showed nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies collected in January. That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.
Of that total, 193,000 people had no access to nightly shelter and instead were staying in vehicles, tents, the streets and other places considered uninhabitable. The unsheltered figure is up by more than 9 percent compared to two years ago.
Increases are higher in several West Coast cities, where the explosion in homelessness has prompted at least 10 city and county governments to declare states of emergency since 2015.
Rents have soared beyond affordability for many lower-wage workers who until just a just few years ago could typically find a place to stay. Now, even a temporary setback can be enough to leave them out on the streets.The increase in homelessness mirrors a national trend.