Data show homeless population increase in metro Denver, more people camping

DENVER -- A survey conducted by Metro Denver Homeless Initiative found Denver's homeless population increased by 200 people from 2017 to 2018.

The study also found more people are either choosing to or are forced to camp, instead of staying in shelters.

The numbers were released on Friday. Colorado Coalition for the Homeless spokeswoman Cathy Alderman said the increase is disappointing.

"As we continue to feel like we are losing this battle, without really aggressive investment and an aggressive strategy, we are just going to keep falling further and further behind," said Alderman.

In that research, it found more people were either choosing to or limited to camping instead of staying in shelters.

"What was unsettling was the unsheltered number increased, meaning there are more people that are experiencing homelessness and they are not seeking shelter or they are not able to seek shelter so they are really living on the streets, under the bridges," said Alderman.

On Monday, Denver Parks and Recreation installed posts and chains along sidewalks in Sixth Avenue Park between Broadway and Lincoln Street.

The department is taking these measures in response to homeless people camping in the park.

"It’s been a challenge and we have tried different things but like I said, it got to a point where people didn’t feel safe and they weren’t safe so we had to take some action," said Scott Gilmore with Denver Parks and Recreation.

Gilmore said the latest response to the homeless encampments in the park has been years in the making. Gilmore said he knew it was time to take bigger steps when he was threatened while walking through the park.

"When I do not feel safe as the head of the department, we really need to take action because I know it’s to the point where it’s just not acceptable," said Gilmore.

The park will reopen to the public as soon as the work is complete.

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