Winter survey of homeless expected to be up from summer count |

Winter survey of homeless expected to be up from summer count

DENVER Frigid weather in Colorado over the past month could boost the number of people considered homeless by as much as 15 to 20 percent over a count taken last summer, homeless advocates say.Some homeless people who did not show up in the summer count will likely be driven by the cold to seek basic services such as food and shelter, making them more visible, the advocates said.The summer count, taken Aug. 28 and released last month, found 11,890 homeless people statewide. More than 400 agencies, churches, nonprofit groups and volunteers in the state’s 64 counties helped compile the count.”I actually think we’ll see more, and up to 20 percent isn’t out of the question, primarily because there are not as many homeless people visible in the summer,” said Jennifer Walker, executive director of the Women’s Crisis & Family Outreach Center in Castle Rock.”More people are staying in shelters and accessing those services because of the cold,” she said.The number of homeless in rural areas is expected to decline from the summer count because fewer migrant farmworkers stay in agricultural areas during the winter.”They go to the city in the winter, and our busy season is traditionally in the summer and fall because of the harvest,” said Lance Cheslock, director of La Puente Home in Alamosa. “I expect we’ll see a 50 percent drop from our summertime count.”The Colorado Housing Division is leading a wintertime survey of the homeless population to help develop a statewide program aimed at reducing the problem. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department is also awaiting the survey as it decides how to distribute nearly $15 million in housing and shelter assistance in Colorado.Before last summer’s count, the last previous survey was in 1988 and found 3,367. It was done by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

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