Safety and dignity for all Denverites is at the core of the Promise of Denver. Living on the streets is neither safe nor dignified – for the people experiencing homelessness or the broader community. Unfortunately, in recent years, this is a problem that has grown significantly and spread across all parts of Denver and our region.
Our unhoused neighbors each bring a unique set of circumstances that have led to their position. We need to recognize that there is not a single, monolithic homeless population and so we need a coordinated set of nuanced, population-specific approaches. To address homelessness, there are five things I will prioritize beginning on Day 1:
- Data. We must have more complete and sophisticated data to inform individualized intervention and better measurement and accountability.
- Sheltering. We have to update our shelter system to ensure people are safe, their belongings are safe and they can be with their families and partners.
- Housing. Denver simply does not have the inventory or diversity of housing to meet the demand. To get people who have experienced homelessness into housing we will establish a regional goal for permanent, supportive housing units; strengthen the coordinated entry system for housing; and build upon the success of the City’s Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond program.
- Supportive services. We need to invest more in and more effectively deliver support services and case management that enable people to address the other challenges in their lives so they don’t lose their housing.
- Prevention. We need to get serious about a prevention-first framework that keeps people in housing, focusing on young adults aging out of the child welfare system and seniors.
The Metro-Denver Homeless Initiative’s annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count for 2022 (conducted January 2022) counted 6,888 people experiencing homelessness in the seven-county metro area, up from 6,104 counted in 2020. Of those, 69% were in Denver.
Of the 6,888 counted in January 2022, 2,073 were unsheltered persons.
While Denver is home to 13% of the state general population, we have 45% of shelter beds in the state. 35% of people in our shelters are not from Denver.
There is a substantial over-representation of minority populations among the unhoused in the Denver-metro area. For example, Black/African American people are just 5.6% of the general population, but were more than 23% of the point-in-time count
In the 2020-21 school year, Denver Public Schools served 1,574 students through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program.
National research has shown that more than half of sheltered adults under age 65 experiencing homelessness are working. Local service providers offer similar estimates for the unhoused population in Denver.
The estimated 2023 spending per person experiencing homelessness or in Permanent Supportive Housing (according to a range of daily count estimates) in Denver is expected to be between $37,309 and $73,450.
Overdose was the most common cause of death among people experiencing homelessness in Denver, accounting for 46% of deaths among the homeless population.
Denver’s 2023 budget includes $254,000,000 to address homelessness.