By HUD’s count, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in metro Denver is up slightly from last year

HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report also shows a decrease nationally.

John Jenkins delivers food and water to a tent encampment near Broadway where a police sweep took place the day prior. Oct. 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

John Jenkins delivers food and water to a tent encampment near Broadway where a police sweep took place the day prior. Oct. 30, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Slightly more veterans were experiencing homelessness in the Denver area this year, according to HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report.

According to the figures released Monday, 566 veterans were counted in metropolitan Denver during the one-night point-in-time survey of people experiencing homelessness in January. Last year it was 548. It was 358 in 2013, the year that saw the lowest figure among veterans since 2011, when the number was 1,322.

Numbers have fluctuated in Denver. Nationally, the estimates have been declining fairly steadily since 2009. Nationally this year, the number decreased 5.4 percent to 37,878, compared to 40,020 reported in 2017.

In a press release, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said: “We’ve made great strides in our efforts to end veteran homelessness, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure those who wore our nation’s uniform have access to stable housing.”

Also Monday, Eric Cobb, deputy regional administrator for HUD Region VIII, attended a ceremony marking the start of construction of an affordable housing project in Aurora in which 10 units will be reserved for veterans who have experienced homelessness, HUD spokeswoman Christine Baumann said. Cobb spoke of the importance of the HUD-VASH Program, which combines permanent HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.

The $24 million Peoria Crossing project is near the new VA hospital and RTD’s A and R lines, and will have a total of 82 units. It was funded by state and federal low-income housing tax credits, HUD, the city and the state’s Housing Solutions Program. It will serve people earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. Construction is expected to be completed next August.

The Housing Authority of the City of Aurora said in a press release that the Aurora City Council has been assessing housing needs and how to allocate $1 million to affordable projects. Mayor Bob LeGare said in a statement that the demand in the Denver suburb for affordable housing was increasing, as was the number of rent-burdened households.