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Breaking Down the Results of the 2021 PIT Survey

The recently released Point in Time (PIT) survey shows an increase of individuals housed in emergency shelters in Denver and Colorado Springs



Illustration of a hand holding a home

The number of people in the Denver metro area who used emergency shelters went up nearly 40 percent over last year, according to the results of a recently released point-in-time survey on homelessness. The spike was attributable, experts said, to concerns about COVID-19 among Denver’s unhoused people.

The worldwide instability wrought by the virus manifested locally in a dramatic increase in the use of emergency shelters as people sought safety. The shift was captured in an annual report called the Point in Time (PIT) survey, and it revealed information such as the number of:

  • Individuals in emergency housing and transitional housing

  • Homeless veterans and their households

  • The total number of homeless individuals in Denver and Colorado Springs

What is the PIT Survey? Every January, the PIT survey is conducted on a single night, when organizations across the county count the number of people who are homeless. The survey this year did not attempt to count people living outdoors – only those in shelters. The PIT then analyzes that snapshot to derive statistics, demographics, and descriptions of how people are experiencing homelessness in local areas.

PIT Results for individuals in emergency housing and transitional housing

When compared to the PIT survey from last year, the 2021 PIT revealed that there was an increase in the use of emergency shelters.


In comparing this year’s numbers to the previous year’s results, the numbers show the change. In 2020, the number of individuals in emergency housing accounted for 48 percent of the Denver metro area homeless population. In 2021, that number increased to 74 percent of the Denver metro area homeless population. In the Colorado Springs area, the number of individuals in emergency housing also increased, but not as dramatically as in the Denver metro area, going from 46 percent in 2020 to 54 percent in 2021.


The need for emergency shelters increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as more individuals sought safety and protection from the spread of COVID-19.

PIT Results for the Veteran Community


When we compare veterans in this year’s PIT survey to last year’s results, the number of veterans in emergency housing increased by 35 percent while the number of veterans in transitional housing decreased by 33 percent in the Denver metro area.


Emergency housing is defined as any facility for those experiencing homelessness that provides temporary shelter. Transitional housing is defined as a facility designed to provide interim stability and support to and maintain permanent housing.


In Colorado Springs, the percentage of veterans in emergency housing decreased by 18 percent and the number of veterans in transitional housing decreased by 22 percent.

To break it down even further, this year’s results showed that there were 269 veterans in emergency shelters and 133 in transitional housing in the Denver Metro area. In Colorado Springs, 51 veterans were in emergency housing while 29 were in transitional housing.


Rocky Mountain Human Services’ Homes for All Veterans (HAV) program works throughout Colorado to house homeless veterans and their families or veterans at risk of becoming homeless. During the last year, the HAV team has worked to house hundreds of at-risk veterans in emergency shelters with the help of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


Veterans were mainly housed in emergency shelters such as hotels and motels to protect at-risk veterans from the spread of COVID-19.

Metro Denver PIT Highlights: 2020 vs 2021

  • Number of people in emergency housing in the year 2020: 2,911

  • Number of people in emergency housing in the year 2021: 4,072 40 percent increase

  • Number of people in transitional housing in the year 2020: 1,582

  • Number of people in transitional housing in the year 2021: 1,426 10 percent decrease

  • Number of homeless veterans in the year 2020: 627

  • Number of homeless veterans in the year 2021: 418 33 percent decrease

  • The total number of homeless individuals in the year 2020: 6,104

  • The total number of homeless individuals in the year 2021: 5,530

  • 9 percent decrease

El Paso County/ Colorado Springs Area PIT Highlights: 2020 vs 2021

  • Number of people in emergency housing in the year 2020: 621

  • Number of people in emergency housing in the year 2021: 626

  • 1 percent increase


  • Number of people in transitional housing in the year 2020: 360

  • Number of people in transitional housing in the year 2021: 530

  • 47 percent increase


  • Number of homeless veterans in the year 2020: 157

  • Number of homeless veterans in the year 2021: 80

  • 49 percent decrease


  • The total number of homeless persons in the year 2020: 1,339

  • The total number of homeless persons in the year 2021: 1,156

  • 14 percent decrease

Data collected in the annual PIT survey raises public awareness, supplies valuable data that informs public funding decisions, increases community collaboration, and helps human services organizations understand the homeless demographics in their area.

For more information on our Homes for All Veterans Program, contact HAVreferrals@rmhumanservices.org.

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