MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota has seen gains in employment, housing construction and home prices, but homelessness remains stubbornly high for families and children, according to a new report.
The latest Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) report found that for the first few months of the school year, nearly 4,000 children and youth were identified as homeless.
The report also found that an average of 372 homeless families sought shelter each month in Hennepin County between July and September of 2014.
“Homelessness among families and children remains a major concern all across the state,” Liz Kuoppala, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, said. “Children and parents face extreme uncertainty when they do not have a stable home. The consequences can severely affect school and job performance.”
With wind chills expected around 20 and 30 below Tuesday night, it only takes minutes for someone to get hypothermia.
But cold weather or not, shelters here in Minneapolis say they’re at capacity every season and have been for years.
“It’s like more and more youth are being homeless and it’s scary,” Mya Flowers, a Youth Ambassador with Youthlink, said.
Flowers has three kids and one on the way. She has also had nights where she did not know where they would be sleeping.
“It’s emotional. It’s frustrating,” Flowers said. “But it all comes together when you have supportive people.”
She found those supportive people at Youthlink, a drop-off center in Minneapolis, who work with young families every day.
“I think it’s very alarming how it’s getting higher and higher and shelters are getting fuller and fuller,” Bob Nelson, Director of Operations at Youthlink, said.
Despite the improvements Minnesota has seen, there still is high and rising rents, poor job quality and racial disparities in employment that are likely contributors to challenging conditions for lower income renters, the report says.
“The improved economy is providing welcome relief, but only for some,” said Chip Halbach, executive director of MHP. “Making sure that Minnesota uses scarce resources wisely to keep people safe and stable and to create much-needed affordable housing will be priorities as we head into the 2015 Minnesota legislative session.”
“I think the economy is starting to take an upward trend, but it’s not impacting the poor or people experiencing poverty as much as the middle class,” Katie Miller, an Associate Director at Youth Link, said.
“The economy is getting better but there’s not a lot of jobs for people who don’t have an education and the rents are very, very high,” Daniel Gumnit, CEO at People Serving People, said.
Gumnit said housing is the biggest obstacle for people who are homeless and especially for families.
“In order to afford a two bedroom apartment in Minneapolis right now, you’d need to work 83 hours a week if you make minimum wage,” Gumnit said.
At Simpson Housing, their beds are full every single night and dozens more have to find shelter somewhere else.
“I’ve got a lot of hard working individuals down here who get up at 3 or 4 in the morning and go out looking for work, go to work” Brian Bozeman, Shelter Manager at Simpson Shelter, said. “Folks who do have income but aren’t able to find housing here because of lack of affordable housing.”
The numbers for chronically homeless single adults and veterans are both down.