Survey: Metro Denver homelessness was rising even before COVID-19

'Point in time' tally shows 6,104 people unhoused in metro area

Alayna Alvarez
Colorado Politics
Posted 7/16/20

The number of people experiencing homelessness in the Denver metro area continues to rise. At least 6,104 people were experiencing homelessness between dusk on Jan. 27 to dusk on Jan. 28 in the seven …

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Survey: Metro Denver homelessness was rising even before COVID-19

'Point in time' tally shows 6,104 people unhoused in metro area

Posted

The number of people experiencing homelessness in the Denver metro area continues to rise.

At least 6,104 people were experiencing homelessness between dusk on Jan. 27 to dusk on Jan. 28 in the seven counties surveyed in the 2020 Point-in-Time census, a one-day count across the nation of people experiencing homelessness.

The data reflects a 6% increase since 2019 and a nearly 15% rise from two years ago.

“These data demonstrate homelessness was a crisis before COVID,” said Matt Meyer, executive director at the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, which coordinates the PIT each year and reports the data to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“With eviction moratoriums and other protective measures ending, we fully expect to see dramatic increases as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic,” he said. “Reinstating these moratoriums on a local or state level would significantly decrease the impact for those households on the edge that now face homelessness.”

Denver represents the largest share of homelessness compared to neighboring counties surveyed in the region — Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and Jefferson — with a count of at least 4,171.

The survey identified:

444 unhoused persons in Jefferson County, up from 434 in 2019.

476 unhoused persons in Adams County, down from 483 in 2019.

245 unhoused persons in Arapahoe County, up from 228 in 2019.

53 unhoused persons in Douglas County, up from 14 in 2019.

Of the more than 6,000 people living unhoused in the entire metro area, 51% were living in shelters within the region. A quarter of those surveyed said they were staying outdoors.

Of the populations identified, 759 people were actively fleeing domestic violence, 627 were veterans, 278 were unaccompanied youth and there were at least 420 families.

The survey also examined race and found that minority populations are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

African Americans made up more than 20% of people experiencing homelessness, but they represent less than 10% of the general population. Indigenous populations make up about 2% of the general population but comprise about 5% of those unhoused.

“The overrepresentation of people of color, specifically (B)lack and Native Americans, among those experiencing homelessness is critical to the response,” Meyer said in a statement. “Homelessness is an issue of race and must be approached through this lens.”

Hundreds of volunteers and partner agencies work together to complete the count every year.

For more survey data, visit mdhi.org/2020_pit_reports.

This story is from Colorado Politics, a statewide political and public policy news journal. Used by permission. For more, visit coloradopolitics.com.

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