Colorado ranks high in many categories in national homelessness report


(The Center Square) – The state of Colorado and Denver in particular appear high in several rankings in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2023 homelessness report to Congress.

The report found on one night in 2023, approximately 653,000 people – roughly 20 out of every 10,000 people in the U.S. – were experiencing homelessness nationally.

Colorado had the country’s second-largest percentage increase in homelessness (38.9% or 4,042) in 2023 compared to 2022, behind New York (39.1% and 29,022), according to the report. California’s increase of 9,878 (5.8%) and Florida’s 4,797 (18,5%) ranked ahead of Colorado’s total number.

The report divided Colorado into four continuums of care, defined as local planning bodies responsible for coordinating homelessness service in a geographic area. Three of Colorado’s continuums are in urban areas.

The spike in homelessness is attributed to changes in shelter capacity and more volunteers using improved methods of counting the homeless at a particular point in time, the report stated.

The report highlighted one Colorado area with an increase of more than 1,500 migrants housed in temporary shelters. The migrants were included as those in shelters on the night of the count. Denver reported earlier this month it supported 29,564 migrants at a cost of more than $33 million.

Colorado had the nation’s highest percentage increase of family homelessness at 69.3% or 1,490, ahead of New York’s 54.3% (18,890).

The metropolitan Denver area had 10,054 people experiencing homelessness, ranking it fifth behind New York City (88,025), Los Angeles (71,320), Seattle (14,149) and San Diego (10,264). Denver also had the second-largest percentage of change in homelessness at 46% (3,170), second to Chicago’s 58.4%.

The state had one of the largest percentage increases of veterans experiencing homelessness at 38.5% (284), second only to Nevada (45.5% and 342). Denver reported 653 veterans experiencing homelessness and more than 200 homeless veterans were counted in Colorado’s rural areas.

The 2,701 people in families experiencing homelessness in Denver rated it fifth in the nation. Denver’s 116.8% increase in the percentage of families with children experiencing homelessness (1,455) was the largest in the nation.

Colorado also ranked among the top five states for the largest percentage increase (15.5%) in individuals experiencing chronic patterns of homelessness.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, a Democrat in his first year in office, made addressing homelessness a priority for his administration. In September, he announced plans to spend half of $48.6 million budgeted for addressing homelessness on purchasing and operating former hotels, additional leases and operating costs. Approximately $16.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds were used to purchase a Best Western Hotel.

In October, research from the Common Sense Institute found approximately $1.9 billion will be spent from 2021 to the end of 2023 by federal state, local and private entities in Colorado.

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