JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As volunteers span out across Colorado for the annual Point In Time homeless survey, Jefferson County is more prepared than ever before. It’s thanks to better cooperation and communication among governments, nonprofits and the community.
“We’ve noticed that homelessness has really increased in the last couple of years so we really wanted to take an intentional proactive approach,” said Kelli Barker, the Jefferson County Regional Homeless Coordinator.
Following frigid temperatures and a low count last January, the county along with city governments and other organizations conducted their own survey in August. That survey had a wider scope and brought other benefits like volunteer organizing.
“Homelessness looks a little differently from urban areas to suburban areas. We do have some data that suggests we have a higher population that lives in their vehicles, and so we take a little more strategic approach to find where those individuals might be and really reach out to them,” said Barker. “We want to capture those people who are kind of on the brink of homelessness so we can address our solutions to prevent people from becoming homeless as well as are already homelessness.”
The county and its partners plan to use data from the surveys to better help people. It’s also placing an emphasis on getting resources and programs communicating for the first time.
“It’s more of a strategic, proactive approach,” Barker said. “There’s a lot of great things going on here in JeffCo. There’s just a lot of things done in silos and not working together, in a coordinated fashion.”
Once the data is in, there will be a new JeffCo plan to end homelessness.