Garco tallies up its homeless | AspenTimes.com

Garco tallies up its homeless

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. ” Stand up and be counted if you’re a homeless person living in Garfield County.

A second statewide homeless count is being conducted around the state and by local charities and nonprofit organizations today to determine the extent of the problem of homelessness and what can be done about it.

The last count was conducted in August 2006.

“This is the second round because we want to see the difference between summer and winter,” said Tom Ziemann, executive director of Catholic Charities Western Slope in Glenwood Springs, which is coordinating the count for Garfield County. “It’s being done as a housing and urban development (HUD) requirement and overseen by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.”

Anyone who falls under the category of “homeless” is encouraged to participate in a short interview. The criteria include a person not living in a safe or permanent place or those living temporarily in a motel room.

“It can be someone couch surfing at a friend’s place,” Ziemann said. “It could be someone stuck in a motel room living month-to-month because they can’t find a place they can afford or don’t have the money for first, last and deposit (for permanent housing). If you’ve been evicted from a place and you’re living with your parents, for the purpose of this survey, you’re homeless.”

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The point-in-time survey means that it takes the data from a certain time frame to determine the number of specifics relating to homelessness.

“We want more specifics as to what the homeless look like,” Ziemann said.

Results of the survey will be used to hopefully drive housing policies for the state of Colorado as well as county and city officials, he added.

The confidential interviews will allow state and local officials not only to compare summer versus winter, but get specific demographics and information, such as whether a person has an alcohol or drug problem or if they’ve ever been homeless before.

“If people fall into one of those categories, they need to come in and be counted,” Ziemann said. “That’s how change is going to happen.”

Results of the August count are expected to be released next week.

Participants can come into Catholic Charities, located at 1004 Grand Ave., between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. or downstairs in the same building at the Feed My Sheep Ministry. Interviews will also be conducted between 8 a.m. and noon at the Extended Table at the Methodist Church at Ninth Street and Cooper Avenue. Ziemann will also accept calls at 384-2060.

Results of the second count should be released in about six months.

“We need to create some more discussion about the housing issues we have here,” Ziemann said. “That’s the purpose of this study.”

Individuals or families are considered homeless if they are:

– Sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks or abandoned or condemned buildings.

– Spending a short time (30 consecutive days or less) in a hospital or other institution, but ordinarily sleeping in the types of places mentioned above.

– Living in transitional/supportive housing but having come from the streets or emergency shelters.

– Staying temporarily in a hotel/motel paid for by others/vouchers and/or while looking for shelter or housing.

– Being evicted within a week from a private dwelling unit and having no subsequent residence identified and lacking the resources and support networks needed to obtain access to housing.

– Being discharged from an institution and having no subsequent residence identified and lacking the resources and support networks need to obtain access to housing.

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