Census workers take to shelters, alleys to count state’s homeless | SummitDaily.com

Census workers take to shelters, alleys to count state’s homeless

Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post
ALL | The Denver Post

An army of census workers is descending on soup kitchens, shelters, alleys and even parking lots in a three-day blitz to count Colorado’s homeless.

“We’ve tried to leave no stone unturned,” said Census Bureau spokeswoman Deborah Cameron.

Derek, 20, got his turn to be counted Tuesday at the Urban Peak shelter in Denver and came away with a 2010 census hat worn by one of the enumerators.

“I convinced him to give it to me,” said Derek, who requested his last name not be used. He arrived in Denver five months ago from Wisconsin without a job.

The count began Monday at many shelters and continued at other facilities and soup kitchens Tuesday, said Lee Ann Morning, manager of the Denver census office.

It will culminate late tonight through the early hours Thursday when teams of four census workers scour the bridges, alleys and parking lots for homeless living outside, Morning said.

“We will visit anywhere where people may be staying in nontraditional housing,” said Jake Cordova, group quarters supervisor for the Census Bureau.

Cordova said the workers will wear orange safety vests and carry flashlights as they seek uncounted homeless. In all, 68 workers will canvass Denver from just before midnight to 7 a.m.

The process will be repeated during the same hours in cities throughout Colorado and the nation.

But they will not arouse any homeless from sleep, Cordova said.

“We are going to avoid waking people up,” Cordova said.

If necessary, the workers will fill out many of the questions, such as gender and race, by observing the sleeping homeless, Cordova said.

Brad Meuli, president of the Denver Rescue Mission, said the expected warm weather today and early Thursday may inflate the number of people sleeping outdoors.

“When the weather gets nice, our numbers (at the shelter) start dropping,” Meuli said.

At the Urban Peak facility at 21st and Stout streets, Leo, 20, was counted as he stopped by for breakfast Tuesday morning.

He said the process was quick and painless. “It only took about 15 to 30 seconds,” he said.

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