Data Compiled by Conner Dawson • Graphics by Sarah Ford via Infogram
The 2018 Point-In-Time count results were released in June, showing a rise in both chronic and unsheltered homelessness in Metro Denver. The 2018 PIT count for Metro Denver involves persons experiencing homelessness in seven counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson. The 2018 total count of those identified as homeless in the Metro Denver counties amassed to 5,317 persons.
The PIT measures the amount of persons in homeless “living situations” through four categories: emergency shelter, transitional housing, unsheltered, and safe haven. These four categories are then divided to calculate the following: household without children, household with at least one adult and at least one child, and household with only children under 18.
We have sorted through some of the most striking and notable stats from the 2018 counts that best indicate the state of homelessness in Denver and Colorado.
Change in Homeless Population, 2015 - 2018
Sheltered homelessness has decreased over the past four annual PIT counts, while unsheltered homelessness has increased. From 2015 to 2018, sheltered homelessness has decreased by 22.6 percent, from 5,177 persons in 2015 to 4,009 in 2018. On the other hand, unsheltered homelessness has increased from 827 persons in 2015 to 1,308 in 2018, an increase of 58.2 percent.
According to Diane Howald, Community Coordinator at Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI), which organizes the annual survey, this may be attributable to a change in the survey process. “Magnet events” were organized to incentivize those in unsheltered situations, including offering services and meals.
“Partly due to these increased efforts in outreach engagement and magnet events, many more people were surveyed who were living in unsheltered situations that night,” she said.
Chronic homelessness appears to be growing annually both across the country and in Colorado. A total of 1,596 people (30 percent of the Metro Denver homeless population) reported they were experiencing chronic homelessness. In a single year, that is a rise from 701 persons surveyed in 2017, and is 25.3 percent of the homeless population.
According to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), chronic homelessness was up 12 percent nationally (9,476 persons). In Colorado, the AHAR measured a rise from one percent to 2.9 percent in chronically homeless individuals across the state in 2017.
Twenty percent of the population of Metro Denver was reported to be newly homeless. Those who are newly homeless are defined by HUD as “a person who has been experiencing homelessness for less than one year and this was their first encounter with homelessness.” Last year, 17 percent of the homeless population (or 471 out of 2,775 surveyed) was newly homeless.
One of the counties to experience the most change is Jefferson County, where the homeless living situation worsened compared to the three previous years. After a drop to 394 reported individuals in 2017, that number spiked to 577 in 2018, the highest number in the past four years. Among those, 13.7 percent of people reported being newly homeless, a 6.1 percent increase from 2017. ■