By Kirk Mitchell
November 18, 2016
Colorado’s overall homeless population increased by 721, or 13 percent, from 2015 to 2016, the report says. HUD volunteers conducted a statewide survey one night in January and counted 10,555 homeless people. Of those, 7,611 were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing and 2,939 were on the streets.Alfred Zabawa joined hundreds of military veterans streaming into Colorado last year for legal pot or to find a job in a state with a thriving economy, only to find themselves living on the streets and contributing to the highest rise in the number of homeless veterans in the nation.
Zabawa, 61, arrived in Colorado an able-bodied man. On Friday, he pulled up his pajama bottoms to reveal an aluminum prosthetic leg as he sat in a wheelchair waiting in line for free groceries in a parking lot outside Denver’s VA Hospital.
While most states saw their homeless veteran populations drop an average of 17 percent in the past year to a total of 39,471, Colorado was one of only eight states going in the opposite direction with increasing numbers, according to the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual report on homelessness, which was released Thursday.
Colorado had the biggest gain of any state with an increase of 231 homeless veterans, a 24 percent rise. Colorado’s homeless veteran population of 1,181 is now nearly as high as the state of New York, which has 1,248 homeless veterans, the HUD report says.
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