Colorado Springs

Annual homeless count is underway

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Local organizations are trying to get a better idea of how many homeless people live in El Paso County.

Leaders of Pikes Peak United Way, along with 120 volunteers, began the annual "Point In Time" Survey on Monday to count the number of homeless people who live in the community and identify the need for shelter and food.

Officials said they counted 1,300 homeless last year, which was up from 2015.

There were 1,073 homeless counted in 2015 and around the same number in 2014.

This year, the focus is on tracking how many homeless youth and families live in the area.

"This data helps us get funding from HUD which will allow us to increase shelters or the amount of food we can provide," President and CEO of Pikes Peak Urban Way, Jason Wood, said.

It also helps plan new ideas of ways to aid the homeless.

"It gives us concrete data to figure out the needs that exist and how to solve them as a community," Wood said.

Maggie, a Colorado Springs resident who has been homeless since she was 17, said the area could use more shelters.

"It's so crowded here, it's hard to get any help we need," she said. "I think we need more space to get some rest and a place to get help finding a job."

Organizers said the survey isn't an exact count because some people prefer not to answer or do not consider themselves homeless, but it is the best attempt to keep track and determine their needs.

The survey doesn't include pandhandlers, who are an ongoing source of criticism and controversy.

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