Determing Homeless Numbers on Our Streets
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo. Each year Colorado is mandated to determine actual numbers of homeless individuals that are living in designated areas of our state.
Various organizations in Mesa County are gearing up to count how many homeless individuals are in the region. These results will directly impact funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other sources.
Homeless advocates, services providers, outreach personnel, social service agencies and volunteers will conduct the surveys. They will sweep areas like the soup kitchen, homeless shelters, and parks among others.
Hard numbers on our homeless population, reveal the cold hard truth on how much work there's left to do.
Timothy Kowalchik, a homeless man, said, "We need more shelters, we need more assistance."
Mollie Woodard, vice chair of the Grand Valley Coalition for the Homeless said, "At any given time there's approximately 1,000 homeless people in our community. That number includes people that are couch surfing, are homeless youth [etc]."
Lori Rosendahl, chief operating officer at the Grand Junction Housing Authority, said, "For one, nobody wants to see anyone living on the streets. But we also need to realized as a community that homelessness costs us. It costs our taxpayers, it costs our business. There's a price we pay for every homeless person that's out there."
The survey reveals what areas the county needs to focus on.
"Who is homeless in our community, is it veterans, which we knew at one time it was a lot of veterans. We've made a dent in the veterans that their seeing at the shelter by about 50 percent," said Rosendahl.
Officials say the face of homelessness changing.
Sister Karen Bland, executive director of the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, said, "We're finding more and more single parents, it could be male as well as female, with children, who are struggling."
"I've been staying at the Homeward Bound and there's quite a few children there that are really young," said Kowalchik.
Economic issues are putting families on the streets.
Woodard said, "There's still people losing their homes due to foreclosure, there's still people who can't quite pay their rent. So economy is driving the homeless population numbers."
With the data, organizations can continue working on sustainable solutions.
Rosendahl said, "Realizing which population it is and we would seek out funding for that population."
"If we can really show there's a need when we go to foundations, we have a greater chance of getting funding that will help our programs," said Bland.
Results will hopefully help provide updated plan of action to make real change on our streets.
Officials will begin gathering data on Wednesday and continue until Friday.