DENVER - The number of homeless people in Colorado has more than tripled since 1988 with most being families with children, according to preliminary results of the first statewide count in nearly 20 years.The Colorado Division of Housing, which released the numbers on Wednesday, counted 11,890 homeless people throughout the state. More than 400 agencies, churches, nonprofit groups and volunteers provided the 24-hour snapshot of the homeless population in the state's 64 counties on Aug. 28.A full report of the results, including a breakdown of the count by county and region, is expected to be released in January.The last survey in 1988 by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless counted 3,367."We can agree that 12,000 is way too many," said coalition president John Parvensky. "Prior studies showed the homeless population was split 50-50 between Denver and the rest of the state. Now it's closer to 70-30."Some say they believe the real number of the homeless population is higher than the latest figure because data from the survey is only partly finished. Those who live in too-remote areas to be counted and women in domestic violence shelters are missing from the preliminary results.Parvensky estimates the real statewide number could be three times higher, based on other surveys.Kathi Williams, director of the Colorado Division of Housing, said the population is likely to go up as the survey is refined.Williams said a second count is due in late January. The two surveys will be used to develop a statewide program aimed at reducing homelessness."This survey is not about how many, but rather how large the problem of homelessness (is)," Williams said. "We set about to establish a minimum benchmark and (see) if we're serious about finding constructive solutions that work to reduce the homeless population."
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