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With the Denver skyline emerging overhead, Denver resident Lance Limper shakes out a blanket as he and his companion Tracy clean around the tent they call home at 25th and Welton streets in Denver on January 22, 2020. 

Data from the Denver metro area’s annual 24-hour count of people experiencing homelessness will be released this week, according to Matt Meyer, executive director of the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative.

From the evening of Jan. 28 to the evening of Jan. 29, social workers and volunteers hit the streets to conduct what’s known as the Point in Time survey, a census mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Unhoused populations were surveyed in the city and counties of Denver and Broomfield, the city of Aurora and Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

The 2019 Point in Time survey found that at least 5,755 people were experiencing homelessness in the Denver metro area, up from 5,317 in 2018. About 20% of those surveyed last year said they were chronically homeless, and 12% reported to be newly homeless.

In the City and County of Denver alone, an estimated 3,943 people were unhoused in 2019. Homeless advocates caution that the data is conservative, offering a mere snapshot into the issue with the goal of identifying trends to find solutions.

For years, the city has fought and failed to get at the heart of its homelessness problem. From housing to health care, Denver’s leadership has been criticized for falling short on all fronts to protect its poor.

On July 1, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced “with some reluctance” his support of a proposal from the Colorado Village Collaborative that will provide emergency support for up to 50 people in Denver’s homeless community. The coalition, which runs the city's “tiny home” village, first brought forth their idea in April.

The city is in the process of identifying locations to set up two to three 60-person campsites in the city, which will be managed 24/7 by staff from the Colorado Village Collaborative.

Hancock said he based his decision on these being “extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures,” a pivot that comes eight years after the city passed its urban camping ban and barely a year since Denver residents voted overwhelmingly to uphold it. (A Denver county judge has since ruled the camping ban unconstitutional, and the city has appealed that decision.) 

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