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Report: Homelessness increasing for most of Mountain West

A homeless man sits on a New York City street corner during COVID-19 quarantine.
Anthony Quintano
/
Flickr
A homeless man sits on a New York City street corner during COVID-19 quarantine.

New federal data shows that homelessness is increasing – slightly – in most Mountain West states.

The 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report is based on a survey conducted on a single night. The data, released this month by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides a snapshot of homelessness. It found that roughly 582,500 people were experiencing homelessness, and 60% of them were staying in a shelter versus the street.

In our region, Colorado had the highest estimate of homelessness – 10,397 people. Wyoming had the lowest estimate – 648 people.

Over the last two years, the number of people experiencing homelessness nationally increased by less than 1%, the report s aid . Twenty-seven states had increases.

In both Colorado and Wyoming, homelessness rose by more than 5%. In Utah, it increased by more than 13%. New Mexico is an outlier – its 23% decrease was the second - largest nationally.

Nate Jennings, the Housing Re-Establishment Program Manager at Good Shepherd Center in New Mexico, said COVID aid helped them get their numbers down.

“There was a lot of money put into the rent moratoriums that allowed people to stay in their homes,” he said. “Without that, there would have been a drastic increase because people wouldn't be able to afford rents without moratoriums and protections for these people, they would have been out on the street.”

Jennings said New Mexico’s drop in homelessness doesn’t reflect what he sees at the center.

“With the [winter] weather increase, we've been full the last couple of nights, even doing additional bedrolls," he said.

Regardless of the data, Jennings believes simple human kindness can go further than some programs can to help individuals start their lives again.

“Even just reaching out to them, being a friend … not ostracizing them or putting them on the outside or making them feel guilty,” he said. “And just courtesy and politeness, dignity, that alone will increase their self-worth.”

For more information on this report and prior reports, visit The Annual Homeless Assessment Report’s website.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2022 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.

Emma VandenEinde