Homelessness in Minnesota Fell in 2015 for First Time Since 2006

Following a 32 percent increase between 2006 and 2012, the number of homeless people in Minnesota fell 9 percent between 2012 and 2015, a report from Wilder Research finds.

According to Homelessness in Minnesota: Findings From the 2015 Minnesota Homeless Study (65 pages, PDF), a survey conducted on a single day in October 2015 counted 9,312 homeless adults, youth, and children in the state — 35 percent of whom were children with parents and 16 percent of whom were minors and young adults on their own. African Americans (39 percent) and Native Americans (8 percent) accounted for a disproportionate share of the homeless population while accounting for just 5 percent and 1 percent of the state’s adult population. The report also found that while adults age 55 and older are the demographic group least likely to be homeless, the number of homeless in that group statewide increased 8 percent between 2012 and 2015, and jumped 21 percent in the Twin Cities metro area.

The survey also found that the number of homeless veterans fell 27 percent from 2012 levels, accounting for 8 percent of all homeless adults and 25 percent of those 55 and older. According to a sub-study (32 pages, PDF) of homeless veterans, nearly half the surveyed veterans reported having service-related health problems, including serious mental illness (62 percent), a chronic health condition (61 percent), or a substance abuse disorder (31 percent).

Based on the one-night survey conducted every three years and funded in part by the Blandin, F.R. Bigelow, McKnight, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Wilder foundations, the report estimates that fifteen thousand Minnesotans were homeless on any given night in 2015, with nearly forty thousand experiencing homelessness at some point during the year. Factors contributing to homelessness include insufficient supply of affordable housing, with 41 percent of homeless adults on a waiting list for subsidized housing; loss of job or reduced hours (30 percent); chronic health conditions (51 percent); domestic violence and abuse (35 percent of women); and discrimination in housing and other systemic inequities.

"While the number of those experiencing homelessness decreased between 2012 and 2015, we still need to address homelessness in a more effective and comprehensive way than we do now," the report concludes. "To do so, we must agree on the dimensions of the problem, use strategies that are known to work, broaden public awareness and commitment to solving the problem, expand the safety net to better catch those at risk of losing housing, and back up these efforts with resources that match the need."

"Homelessness in Minnesota: Findings From the 2015 Minnesota Homeless Study." Wilder Research Press Release 11/16/2016. "Homelessness in Minnesota 2015." Wilder Research Report 11/16/2016.