[Hpn] Minnesota : 40% of state's homeless are working

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 27 Feb 2001 19:35:09 -0800


Published: Sunday, February 25, 2001

40% of state's homeless are working, study finds
Research illustrates deep housing crisis

About 8,600 Minnesota adults, teens and children are homeless on any given
night. And they include disproportionately large numbers of racial
minorities, people with serious mental illness and full-time workers.

Those are among the conclusions of a statewide survey of almost 3,000
homeless people by the Wilder Research Center, an arm of the Wilder

Nearly 40 percent of the homeless people surveyed in October said they had a
serious mental illness. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed were black. And
more than 40 percent were working, according to the survey, which is
conducted every three years.

Greg Owen, who directed the study, said Minnesota's shelters are used by
diverse groups of people, ranging from mothers with children to single men
working low-wage jobs. But the large groupings of minority members, the
mentally ill and working people point to weaknesses in the housing market,
he said.

Owen said Minnesota doesn't have enough housing for lower-wage workers and
not enough group homes and supportive housing for people with mental
illness. The numbers also may point to possible discrimination in the
housing market, he said.

``The numbers dramatize the housing crisis we're in,'' Owen said. ``We've
got one of the tightest housing markets ever in the Twin Cities. And even
though we have a larger proportion of people in shelters working, wages are
not adequate to afford housing.

``Plus, you have a significant number of people who have some credit
problem,'' which makes it even harder for them to find housing, he said.

One positive finding, Owen said, was that about 85 percent of school-age
children in homeless families were attending school.

Owen's numbers were based on a one-day snapshot of homelessness in
Minnesota, a survey conducted in every homeless facility in the state on
Oct. 26, 2000. More than 500 interviewers surveyed 2,480 adults and youths,
plus 468 homeless people not staying in shelters.

Two months ago, Wilder released the numbers of people in state shelters at
the time. This month, it is releasing preliminary information from
interviews with homeless people. And in the spring, it will release a
complete analysis of the information, comparing it to studies during the
past decade.

 2001 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press / TwinCities.com

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