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Study: Minnesota sees jump in homelessness since 2015

March 24, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s homelessness increased by 10 percent between 2015 and 2018, despite employment growing during the same period, according to a study.

Researchers from the St. Paul-based Wilder Foundation counted 10,233 homeless people in Minnesota on Oct. 25, 2018, according to findings released this month. It’s a jump of nearly 1,000 people since the last study in 2015, and marks the highest count since the study began in 1991, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Minnesota’s unemployment was at a historic low of 4 percent or less during the same period. The state had a jobless rate of 2.8 percent in October 2018.

Researchers conducted the count at emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters and transitional housing programs. They also included people camped outside and those seeking services at hot-meal programs and other drop-in locations. But the count likely missed many who weren’t staying in shelters on the day of the tally, particularly young people and those living in rural areas, the study’s authors said.

The number of people experiencing homelessness who weren’t living in a formal shelter grew by more than 60 percent since 2015, which researchers credit to shelters being full.

“The population of people staying in shelters is similar to what we saw in 2015, due in part to shelters being at full capacity,” said Michelle Decker Gerrard, co-director of the study.

Researchers interviewed people at outreach locations who said they’ve slept in encampments, cars or on public transportation, while others stayed on friends’ couches.

“We’re concerned about the growing number of people who are staying outside or temporarily doubling up,” said Decker Gerrard.

The study also found that the number of adults ages 55 and older experiencing homelessness increased by 25 percent since 2015. Families saw a 5 percent drop in homelessness during the research period, while children and people ages 24 and younger remained about the same.

Children and unaccompanied youth account for almost half of Minnesota’s homeless population.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org