Police officers talk to residents in the Quarry homeless camp southeast of downtown.
According to numbers recently released from January's Point-in-Time homeless count, the total number of people experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs appears to have stabilized after three years of consecutive large increases.
Volunteers conducting the count recorded a total of 1,562 people staying outside, in emergency shelters and living in transitional housing — 11 more than last year, representing an increase of less than 1 percent.
Since 2015, when volunteers counted 1,073 people, the city's homeless population has increased by 45.6 percent.
The federally-mandated estimate, considered an undercount, is conducted every year on a single night in January. This year, 180 volunteers canvassed the city conducting surveys and distributing socks, hats, gloves and hand-warmers.
This year's numbers showed a 13 percent decrease in the number of unsheltered people (those staying in tents, in cars or on the streets). Meanwhile, 7.7 percent more people were counted in emergency shelters and transitional housing. The numbers reflect positively on the city's push to add more low-barrier shelter beds this year, where clients don't have to meet sobriety requirements.
Springs Rescue Mission — already a low-barrier shelter — began adding beds
in November, for a total of 150 new beds by the end of the season. Meanwhile, the Salvation Army Shelter & Services at RJ Montgomery began removing sobriety requirements for its 220 beds, and plans to add 40 beds for homeless families by the time renovations are complete.
Volunteers counted 131 unaccompanied youths this year, and 137 families (households with at least one adult and one child). Those represent 41 percent and 7 percent increases from the previous year, respectively, though families and children who may be staying temporarily with friends or family aren't counted in the Point-in-Time.
Data collected separately by El Paso County school districts for the 2017-2018 school year showed 449 families and 1,117 students without permanent housing. That data also includes those staying with friends or family, staying in trailer parks and living in motels.