Homelessness in Colorado: Causes and Assistance Programs

As one of the states with boundless beauty and rapid economic growth, Colorado is unfortunately no exception to the pressing issue of homelessness. This problem has been on the rise, fueled by a complex interaction of mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment, exorbitant housing costs, and insufficient social assistance programs. Addressing these root causes and determining the scope of assistance accessible to the homeless population in Colorado is crucial in setting the path to find sustainable solutions.

Who is Facing Homelessness in Colorado?

The homeless population in Colorado isn't a homogeneous group; it includes individuals from different demographic backgrounds, unique circumstances leading to homelessness vary but include veterans, families, young adults, those battling substance abuse, and individuals with mental health issues. Over the past few decades, there has been a steady increase in homelessness, given the state's strong economy and corresponding rise in housing costs. Unfortunately, the cost of living has outpaced the average wages, particularly for those in low-income brackets, pushing more people towards homelessness.

Programs Designed by the State Government of Colorado for Homeless Assistance

In a proactive response, the state government of Colorado has developed programs explicitly designed to combat homelessness. One such initiative is the Colorado Department of Human Services, offering aid in securing housing, affordable healthcare, food, and other basic services. The Department of Local Affairs Division of Housing (DOH), provides rental assistance and develops affordable housing for low-income individuals and families, elderly, and those with special needs. The 'Homeless Prevention Activities Program' (HPAP) assists families and single adults who are at risk of homelessness due to a temporary financial crisis. Furthermore, the 'Emergency Solutions Grants' (ESG) program provides direct services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.

Supporting Homeless Shelters with Funding Needs

In addition to direct services, the state funds non-profit homeless shelters to enable them to continue providing vital services. Such funding comes in the form of grants or aid from programs like HPAP and ESG, aimed at helping the shelters in achieving their mission.

Services Provided by Homeless Shelters in Colorado

There are numerous homeless shelters across the state of Colorado. The eligibility to receive help varies between shelters, but many seek to provide resources to as many individuals as possible. Generally, the homeless, the precariously housed, and those at risk of becoming homeless due to economic instability are eligible for help. Shelters not only provide a safe place to stay but offer additional services like meal provision, job placement programs, healthcare, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and assistance in securing permanent housing.

Numbers and Availability of Homeless Shelters Across the State

According to a 2020 report, there are approximately 30 emergency shelters, around 20 transitional shelters, and over five safe havens providing services to those in need. However, this number can vary as new centers emerge, and some close due to numerous factors. Comprehensive and updated lists of available homeless shelters in Colorado are typically maintained by local human service departments and social services offices. It's worth noting that services may vary greatly from one shelter to another.


Colorado is making steady strides towards combating homelessness. Both the government and non-profit organizations are working relentlessly to provide immediate shelter to those in need and to address the underlying issues causing homelessness. Accessing these resources is a critical step in finding stability and rebuilding one's life. Do not hesitate to seek help; numerous programs, organizations, and services are working tirelessly to provide a helping hand.

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