Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homeless headcount today

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Volunteers are combing the city today in an attempt to get an accurate count of the homeless population.

It's not an easy task, but the federal government requires the annual survey in order to determine the level of grants local nonprofits will receive. The Point in Time Survey, as it's known, is also an interesting measure of the social and economic health of a city — and it's more accurate than anecdotal evidence.

For instance, since outdoor camping on public lands was banned, it would appear that fewer homeless people call the city home. But 2012 survey results showed that they were probably just better hidden. Last year, the homeless population in Colorado Springs increased.

Results from this Point in Time won't be available for months.

The details, from Catholic Charities:


TODAY - Wednesday, January 30 — the annual Point in Time survey, measuring homelessness in the Colorado Springs area, will be conducted at various locations throughout the city. Volunteers as well as representatives from Homeward Pikes Peak, Pikes Peak United Way, and Catholic Charities’ Marian House, will be at the Marian House Soup Kitchen conducting surveys during the lunch time serving hours. Surveys will also be conducted at other locations.

The survey is conducted in compliance with requirements set by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The data is also used by homeless services provider to fine-tune services to better meet the needs of the community. The definition of homelessness is vast, but basically people are considered homeless if they do not have a permanent residence. This includes those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing such as a motel, couch surfers, those living in a place not meant for human habitation, campers, etc. Counts like these are being done all over the county this week and the numbers directly affect federal funding.

According to Bob Holmes, CEO of Homeward Pikes Peak, the Colorado Springs agency which coordinates homeless efforts in our region, last year about 2,500 to 3,000 people were homeless. Additionally, the number of tent campers has been reduced by about two thirds over the past several years to around 240 campers in El Paso county. He said, “Today’s homeless are different. Now we’re seeing small families, more men and women with kids, and they’ve got two $8 dollar per hour jobs, and one of them lost a job and they have opted to keep the car instead of the apartment.”

Families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. At the Aztec Motel, a project of Homeward Pikes Peak, about 90 people are temporary residents, 44 of them are children. The Aztec is a stepping stone for many families, giving them temporary shelter while they get back on their feet.

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