MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - While fewer Minnesotans are experiencing homelessness, experts say troubling trends still remain.
Leaders of the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness detailed some of those trends to lawmakers this week. The number of Minnesotans experiencing homelessness has decreased by about 5% since 2014 when the agency launched a plan to end and prevent homelessness. But the number of adults without children experiencing homelessness has increased 27% during that time, and more than 1700 people are experiencing chronic homelessness, up 47 percent. The number of people staying outdoors has also increased by 145%, up to 1,900 people. Experts say the rise is in part because funding for the shelter system in the state has never kept up with demand.
“As our housing market has gotten farther and farther out of reach for so many Minnesotans, and become more competitive the folks that are the very least likely to be able to access stable housing are folks that are not only low incomes of course but also have any other kinds of complicating issues in their lives that make them less able to compete for the housing that’s available.”
The council says since the start of the pandemic, $100 million in federal relief funds have gone to the state’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program. Since April, 909 people experiencing homelessness and staff who work with them have tested positive for COVID-19.