COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The homeless population in Colorado Springs is shrinking. The latest numbers released in the annual Point in Time survey show the total number of people experiencing homelessness fell by 10 percent in compared to last year.
The 1,302 people counted as homeless in the January survey represent the smallest population in Colorado Springs since 2016.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development requires Point in Time surveys to be conducted every other year for cities and communities seeking federal aid for homelessness programs.
In Colorado Springs, Community Health Partnership orchestrates the survey through the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care.
Evan Caster, Senior Manager of Homeless Initiatives for Community Health Partnership, explained that Colorado Springs holds its survey annually because many partner agencies value the data collected.
He notes the drop in the homeless population coincides with record numbers of people finding permanent housing.
"We've never had so many people in permanent housing programs as a community," Caster said. "We actually believe that is one of the biggest reasons we saw a decrease in our overall homeless count this year."
The city's first permanent supportive housing development, Greenway Flats opened in 2019 on the campus of the Springs Rescue Mission.
Then in 2020, Greccio Housing opened the 50-unit Freedom Springs permanent supportive housing development to serve veterans experiencing homelessness.
“Getting more people into permanent housing has shown to be really successful for us as a community. All of the providers who are doing that day in and day out are doing a tremendous job to really meet people where they’re at,” said Caster.
There is reason to anticipate the decline will continue in 2023.
Homeward Pikes Peak opened a 50-unit permanent supportive housing development called The Commons in April.
A total of 42 people have since moved into The Commons, 23 are families and 11 are individuals. The facility will soon house eight veterans experiencing homelessness.
While the data show encouraging trends, Caster notes the survey also captured an increase in the number of people living on the streets, rather than in shelters.
He believes the data reflect new initiativesto more accurately count the unsheltered population in the community.
"One of our local non-profits, Westside Cares, actually incentivized people who are experiencing homelessness to go out and help us with surveying," Caster explained. "So, they went out to those encampments that are hard to reach for some of our outreach workers and volunteers, and they were able to get additional surveys in the community."
He also said there was greater cohesion among the street outreach teams participating in the PIT survey.
A demographic breakdown of the data revealed greater racial disparities among those experiencing homelessness with African Americans and Native Americans disproportionately represented in the survey.
Caster said those innovations in time survey caught the attention of the Regional Director for HUD who visited Colorado Springs to participate and validate the new survey methodology.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.