COVID made Denver’s homeless count difficult, but a new report paints a troubling picture – The Burlington Record

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The number of people in the Denver metro area who said they were new to it homelessness almost doubled in 2021 compared to 2020, according to a new report.

And people of color make up a disproportionate percentage of homeless people in the Denver area, the report says.

The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative on Thursday published its second annual report on the situation of the homeless. The report goes beyond the one-time annual census of people living in shelters or on the street managed by the organization, and brings together data from multiple sources to provide a more holistic view of homelessness, officials said.

“When COVID hit, we had a lot more road contact to keep people safe and to know where they were. safe outdoor spacesthat Safe Parking Initiative’ said Jamie Rife, the initiative’s spokeswoman, on Thursday, speaking generally of service providers across the metropolitan area. “It has allowed us to reconnect people to resources faster and help protect them, but also to understand this population much better. Now we have much better data.”

This year’s report includes three totals for people affected by homelessness in Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and Jefferson counties. The seven counties will conduct another in-person count Monday night.

Using data from the metro area’s Homeless Management Information System, the common information collection point used by nearly 75% of shelters and all state-funded service providers, the report counted 32,233 people who had at least one request for services or housing assistance between July 1 related to homelessness and June 30, 2021.

While personal timing counts for 2021 was canceled Concerned about the safety of COVID-19, the report, using data from the system, found that on the night of February 26, 2021, 5,530 people were in emergency shelters, transitional shelters or safe havens.

While this is a decrease from the 6,104 people in the 2020 census, the 2021 census included data from only about 75% of the shelters. The 2020 figure also included a personal count of those deemed “vulnerable” sleeping in tents, cars and other places not intended for human habitation. The 2021 survey did not.

Overall, the initiative’s report found that approximately 40% of people affected by homelessness in the Denver metro area are homeless each night.

What the 2021 point-in-time data showed was a sharp increase in shelter use and the number of people first reporting homelessness. As of February 26, 2021, 2,530 people were in shelters reported to be homelessdown from 1,273 people during the January 2020 census, a sign of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on home safety in the Denver area, service providers say.

“I expected an increase,” said Rife, who will take over as executive director of the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative next month. “I don’t know if I expected this kind of increase.”

Finally, the report used data from the 2019-2020 school year to count 11,830 metropolitan students who were classified as homeless by their school districts. This census used different definitions than the database.

Regardless of the definition or method, one thing Rife noticed in the report was that Black, Indigenous, and Black people were over-represented compared to White people.

Of the 10,870 unprotected adults counted by the joint data system, 22.7% were Black, more than 4.4 times the percentage of Blacks in the Metro population as a whole. Of the 952 unprotected youths counted, 24.5% were black.

“This tells us that there are many structures and systemic issues that need to be addressed that contribute to this over-representation,” Rife said. “criminal justice reform, child welfare reform, health care; These are all things that disproportionately affect people of color, leading to things like homelessness and living in poverty.”

The report contained a silver lining. The data showed a 15% decrease in the number of veterans affected by homelessness, giving Rife hope that regional coordination and collaboration can address the challenges.

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