Taking on the homeless issue | PostIndependent.com

Taking on the homeless issue

The Colorado state government is trying to solve its homeless situation. On Tuesday, local charities and nonprofit organizations around the state will participate in the Colorado statewide homeless count survey to better understand exactly what the homeless situation around the state is, and what can be done. Catholic Charities, located at 1004 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs, will be administering the survey to the homeless of the town. “This survey is to help us better understand the situation and how to address it,” said Tom Ziemann, executive director for Catholic Charities. “The information gathered by this will hopefully help drive public interest and funding to solve the situation.”Ziemann stated that the definition of homeless must be addressed in a different way. Most of the homeless people in the Roaring Fork Valley are not the stereotypical homeless people we think of, he said.”Most of these people (in the area) are working people,” Ziemann said. “But with the housing situation being the way it is around here, we have to include anyone without a permanent, safe and secure place to live. Including people who live in their cars, hotels, or are just couch surfing.” The survey was developed by four organizations around the state, including the Colorado State Division of Housing, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, University of Colorado – Denver, and the National Research Center. Every county in the state will participate in Tuesday’s survey. Ziemann is the regional director for the survey managing seven counties, including Garfield County. On Wednesday, he will collect the completed surveys and send them to Denver, where the National Research Center will analyze the information.The survey is a point-in-time survey. It’s designed to take data within a certain time frame, from any agency around the state, that have contact with homeless for whatever reason. The agencies will administer a 10-minute interview to determine a number of specifics regarding homelessness. “We will consider demographic information about the people,” Ziemann said. Issues such as mental illness, how long they have been homeless and if they have been homeless before, as well as if they are veterans of foreign wars will be taken into consideration, he said. The valid information will be analyzed so the state government can better determine how homelessness affects the social policies and how to better sanction funding to help solve the issue.Ziemann encourages all who currently find themselves in this situation to stop by and participate. Catholic Charities will be open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesday. For more information, contact Catholic Charities at 384-2060.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. 535jgardner@postindependent.com

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