On Jan. 23-24, Boulder County will learn more about its homeless population by participating in the 2012 Point in Time Homeless Survey, conducted by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI).
Organizers say the survey, which is now being conducted annually instead of every two years, has not historically provided comparable statistics because the questions and collection methods changed year to year. But this time, MDHI officials are using the same methodology as the January 2011 survey.
Local volunteers are still needed to help administer the survey, and contributions of personal hygiene items, socks and packaged foods are being accepted. Those items will be given to homeless individuals as an incentive to complete the survey. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-441-1570.
Organizers say the last survey shows that the fastest growing homeless population is families. Almost one in three Boulder County residents earn $44,000 a year or less. That amount is 200 percent of the federal poverty level for the county, well below the sustainable local wage level of $67,924 to $89,474 a year. Here are some other highlights from the findings:
• About half of Boulder County’s homeless population, 914 people, spent the night of Jan. 24 in the city of Boulder. Nearly all of the remainder spent that night in either Longmont (636) or Lafayette (160).
• Most of the county’s homeless stayed with family or friends that night (40.6 percent), followed by emergency shelters (22.6 percent) and time-limited transitional housing (13.8 percent). Another 6 percent were unsheltered.
• The most common reasons for becoming homeless were job loss, reported by 36.7 percent of Boulder County respondents, and high housing costs, reported by 27.4 percent.
• Nearly two-thirds (61.1 percent) of the county’s homeless population reported having families with children under 18 years old.
• Serious mental illness, alcohol/drug abuse and serious medical/physical conditions were listed as the most frequent disabling conditions among homeless adults.