Feb 8, 2022 - News

How Colorado's homeless problem compares to other states

Data: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

Colorado's chronically sheltered homeless population grew by 266% between 2007 and 2021, more than any other state, a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows.

Driving the news: HUD's annual point-in-time count from 2021 assesses cities across the nation on sheltered homelessness, defined as people in shelters or transitional housing.

By the numbers: The state ranked 5th nationwide in 2021 when it comes to sheltered chronically homeless individuals. Local shelters housed about 3% of the country's total share of sheltered but unhoused people.

  • As for sheltered homeless families, Colorado recorded a 16% increase and was one of only 10 states to experience a climb.
  • Metro Denver was also among the country's top three cities with the highest number of veterans experiencing homelessness at 418 people, trailing only Los Angeles (665) and New York City (620).

State of play: To help address the crisis, Denver on Monday quadrupled its contract to $4 million with the Colorado Village Collaborative to continue and expand city-sanctioned campsites for unhoused people.

  • On Feb. 1, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also launched the city's second "housing surge" campaign to get at least 400 more people "stably housed" by mid-May.
  • Meanwhile, Hancock's administration is advancing a plan that would require real estate developers to build affordable housing units in new residential projects with 10 or more units.

Yes, but: The city's ongoing homeless sweeps and permanent no-camping zones intended to crack down on illegal encampments have pushed people to other places, like Denver International Airport. Police contacts at DIA have nearly tripled to more than 1,000 since 2018, 9News reports.

What's next: Denver's housing department received $10.8 million in American Rescue Plan housing aid from the federal government and is exploring how to spend the funds.

  • Two public feedback sessions will be held later this month to discuss eligible funding initiatives, which include affordable housing, homeless prevention and supportive services, rental assistance and the purchase and development of a non-congregate shelter.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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