Chaffee County Participated in the Point-in-Time Count of Area’s Sheltered Population Experiencing Homelessness

On the night of January 30, 2024, the Chaffee County Continuum of Care conducted a Point-in-Time Count (PIT) of people experiencing homelessness who stay in our emergency shelters and families staying in motels. Chaffee County has emergency nighttime winter shelters for men and women in Salida run by Chaffee County Hospitality Inc.(CHI) Local nonprofit organizations and county agencies such as Chaffee Department of Human Services (DHS) and Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) also help unsheltered families and their children with motel stays.

The PIT also surveys youth experiencing homelessness. Individuals, ages 18 through 24, who are unaccompanied by an adult and are experiencing homelessness or housing instability (staying with friends or another family, couch surfing, sleeping in a car) were surveyed and counted separately as youth.

The annual Point-in-Time Count helps establish the number of individuals experiencing homelessness who stay in shelters and are unsheltered in a specific area. The survey rotates every other year from “sheltered” to “unsheltered” and collects data that will in turn help organizations better identify local needs, advocate for those experiencing homelessness, and measure progress toward reducing homelessness. During the same time period, the State conducts a Housing Inventory Count (HIC) that is an inventory of programs within a CoC that provide beds dedicated to serving people experiencing homelessness. The information is used to assist local organizations with applying for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other homelessness housing and assistance funds.

In 2023, CHI and many volunteers conducted the first ever Chaffee PIT surveys at shelters, motels and by outreach to unsheltered people. Total number of persons surveyed was 59, including 6 couples and 1 unaccompanied youth. There were 9 at the men’s shelter, 3 at the women’s shelter and everyone else was unsheltered. Without the Chaffee CoC and 2023 PIT count demonstrating local need, CHA and CHI would not have been able to collaboratively apply for and ultimately be awarded the Bezos Grant, which is funding emergency housing for homeless families with children as they find stable housing through 2025.

This year, the Chaffee County Sheltered Point-in-Time Count total was 26 people in emergency shelters and motels on the night of January 30, 2024. This breaks down to 6 men and 1 woman staying in the emergency winter shelters in Salida, 5 families staying in motels and 2 unaccompanied youth ages 18 through 24 staying in our shelter or couch surfing.

Since the surveys are conducted on a single night in January, they give us a snapshot in time of the number of people who are facing homelessness in Chaffee County. The number of men and women staying at the winter shelters in Salida varies. Some nights there are 5 women and 12 men, other nights more, other nights less. Along with those numbers is the varying need for motel rooms to help families experiencing homelessness.

The differences in numbers between 2023 and 2024 are due to the nature of the counts, sheltered vs. unsheltered & sheltered. Many of our community members experiencing homelessness are skilled campers and do not use the winter shelters. Most of these folks are deeply embedded in the community, raised children or went to school here, have family and friends to help out in case of emergency and are working.

This year’s PIT surveys were conducted by Chaffee Housing Authority, Chaffee Department of Human Services, and Chaffee County Hospitality Inc., all members of Chaffee County Continuum of Care. A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body that coordinates services and housing funding for families and individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Several county agencies and organizations participate in our Continuum of Care, meeting three times per month. Chaffee CoC works together to connect individuals and families with the services they need to move toward housing. In the past year Chaffee CoC has helped get 5 people housed who were in our shelters or unsheltered. Three of these people had been chronically homeless and are now housed.

Agencies and nonprofits who helped with the PIT and those who participate in Chaffee County CoC include Chaffee Public Health, Solvista Health, Chaffee County Community Foundation, Full Circle Restorative Justice, UAACOG, The Alliance, Salida School District, Ark-Valley Humane Society, Loaves and Fishes, BETCH, Caring and Sharing, Chaffee County Veterans Services, Chaffee Housing Authority, Chaffee Department of Human Services, and Chaffee County Hospitality Inc. We are grateful for the efforts of the many volunteers and organizations collaboratively serving our community members who are unhoused.

Dan R