Colorado Springs, COLO., (KRDO) - According to the Point in Time inventory account of houselessness in Colorado Springs released this morning, the total number of unsheltered homeless people has risen from 276 to 374 people this year. This number accounts for people who do not have a home or a place to stay.
Overall, the number of people experiencing homelessness totals 1,302 people, the lowest amount recorded since 2016, according to the report. This includes sheltered homeless people and chronically homeless people.
The increase in unsheltered people, however, is related to the collection methods used by the Community Health Partnership, responsible for collecting this year's report. According to Evan Caster, Senior Manager of Home Initiatives, this report was gathered using more thorough methodologies, which accounts for the increase in numbers.
"We think that we actually got more truthful responses this year that also led us to understand that that number was a little bit higher maybe than we had reported in previous years," said Caster.
This May, the Salvation Army shelter off Sierra Madre Street transitioned from an individual shelter to a "Family Hope Center" in May. This is helping to alleviate the problem, but it is hard to tell how much. Since the shelter opened in May, they've had few vacancies, according to Jeane Turner, the Community Relations Director for the Salvation Army in El Paso County.
She also mentioned that quantifying homeless families is tricky.
“We really don't know what the family homelessness looks like because it's kind of what we refer to as a 'hidden homeless," Turner said. "A lot of families, they don't want people to know that they're homeless.”
The only way to quantify the number of family units experiencing homelessness is through the school system. In the Colorado Springs School District 11 alone, roughly 600 children qualify for the Mckienny Vento Act, a law that ensures equal opportunity for children whose families lack permanent housing.
Though the Salvation Army just opened its doors and is utilizing all of its space, they looking towards opening another family shelter that could handle 60 to 80 families, as compared with the shelter's current capacity of around 30 families.
When asked about the reason behind the overwhelming flood of families without shelter, Turner attributed it to the rise in housing costs. Many of the parents, single or not, had jobs. They just couldn't afford homes.