Jul 21, 2022 - News

Homelessness in metro Denver deepens

Change in Denver-area point-in-time homelessness counts
Data: Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Homelessness is getting worse in metro Denver, and new numbers show the extent of the issue's growth.

  • At least 784 more people in the Denver area lack permanent housing than during the last survey, up 13%, with the biggest increases in the suburbs, according to data released by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative from a point-in-time count in January.
  • The 2022 survey included people living outdoors, who weren't counted in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Why it matters: Addressing homelessness is among the top issues troubling Denver and state leaders, who are spending millions to increase housing options and address affordability issues.

By the numbers: 6,888 people were experiencing homelessness on Jan. 24, including 4,815 who were sheltered and 2,073 who were not. The count included Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

  • The number of unsheltered people grew by 33% between 2020 and 2022, while total sheltered individuals grew by 6%.
  • Broomfield saw the biggest spike among counties surveyed: a 231% increase, from 26 to 86 people. Boulder saw a drop of 34%, from 689 to 457.

What they're saying: "Historically, I figure a better estimate of this number is probably two to three times that," Denver Homeless Out Loud organizer Benjamin Dunning told Axios Denver, referring to the number of people living unsheltered per the annual count.

The big picture: The state estimates it has more than 9,000 people experiencing homelessness.

  • Meanwhile, the pandemic inflated housing prices in metro Denver by 38.5%, making homeownership increasingly inaccessible.

State of play: Local, state and federal dollars are earmarked for the sole purpose of curbing homelessness.

  • Denver's sales-tax-funded Homeless Resolution Fund was expected to generate $37 million in 2021, paying for supportive housing and financing to develop more housing.
  • The state legislature passed measures this session, including spending $178 million, to build more affordable housing.
  • U.S. Rep. Dianne DeGette of Denver wants to secure $4 million in federal money to help the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless buy a hotel in Denver and convert it to housing for people experiencing homelessness, her office said in a release on Wednesday.

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