EL PASO COUNTY – Homelessness continues to be a major issue in southern Colorado, but the latest numbers show there is some improvement being made.
This week, the 2019 Point-in-Time Count for El Paso County was released. This is a study that’s done one night every year as a requirement by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
El Paso County’s PIT Count was conducted in late January. While the total number of people identified as homeless increased slightly from last year the number of people without shelter has dropped. For the latter group – that’s where real progress is happening.
“I think I would’ve been a drunk on Powers Boulevard.”
That’s the situation Aric Duckett says he’d be in if he hadn’t found a home at Springs Rescue Mission.
“I lived in a tent prior to living out here.”
After five years of being homeless he’s ready to move on.
“I just graduated Jobs for Life.”
It’s one of several transitional programs at the mission helping people like him to find employment and become self-sufficient again. Once he finds his own place to live he’ll be one less homeless person in El Paso County.
However, a big issue in this area is that “we don’t have enough units or places that are affordable to place them in,” said Jennifer Mariano, program manager at Pikes Peak Continuum of Care. Her organization, along with Community Health Partnership, puts together the PIT homeless count every year.
“That gives us kind of a good annual look at how our services are impacted and how our local organizations, how many people they’re actually serving.”
According to this year’s count 1,562 people experiencing homelessness were identified. Last year it was slightly lower.
444 people were found sleeping unsheltered which is a drop of 13 percent from 2018.
1,118 people were sheltered in emergency facilities or transitional housing, an increase of nearly eight percent from a year ago.
Travis Williams, chief development officer at Springs Rescue Mission, said, “Because it is one night there are probably many more individuals who are struggling out there than we even know, but it’s encouraging with that one measurement to see Colorado Springs and El Paso County continuing to move forward and make some traction.”