Homelessness in Minnesota

Every three years, Wilder Research conducts a one-day statewide study to better understand the prevalence of homelessness in Minnesota, as well as the circumstances of those experiencing homelessness. The 2018 study took place on October 25, 2018.

2018 single night count of people experiencing homelessness.
The 2018 study included two components that captured information on October 25th.
1) face-to-face interviews with people throughout the state who meet a federal definition of homelessness
2) a count of people experiencing homelessness. Because point-in-time counts and surveys can never completely include all people experiencing homelessness, especially those not using shelters, the numbers represented here should be considered a minimum count.

These results highlight initial observations from the counts data only, which include:

All people staying in emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, and transitional housing programs (referred to as “in shelter” in this summary).
People located outside, doubled up, and identified through interviews in outreach locations such as encampments, hot-meal programs, and other drop-in service sites (referred to as “not in a formal shelter” in this summary).
The number of people experiencing homelessness is up 10%.
One-night study counts of the Minnesota Homeless Population, 1991-2018. This graph shows two trend lines. One trend shows the total number of people counted, which most recently increased from 9,312 in 2015 to 10,233 in 2018. The other trend shows the count of children with parents, which held steady from 3,296 in 2015 to 3,265 in 2018.

Initial observations:
After a decline between 2012 and 2015, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness increased to peak 2012 levels (up 10% over 2015).
The numbers of homeless children and youth age 24 and younger are similar to levels counted in 2015; together, they represent nearly half of the homeless population (46%).
The number of families experiencing homelessness decreased by 5% (down to 1,472 in 2018).
The number of homeless adults increased from 2015, particularly among those 55 and older (up 25%).
The number of people not in a formal shelter (outside or doubled up) increased considerably since 2015 (up 62%).

Overall, the number of children and youth age 24 and younger experiencing homelessness remained steady.
Together, children and unaccompanied youth (age 24 and younger) make up nearly half of those experiencing homelessness (46%).
Since 2015, there was a 1% decrease in the number of children homeless with their parents.
There was a 1% increase in the number of homeless youth (age 24 and younger) on their own (without their parents).
While their numbers remained steady, children and youth are the most disproportionally affected by homelessness (relative to their population in Minnesota).

A pie graph shows homelessness in Minnesota by age group. From youngest to oldest age group, the percentage of the population experiencing homelessness includes: 32% children age 17 or younger with parents, 15% unaccompanied youth age 24 and younger, 43% adults age 25-54, and 10% older adults age 55+.

The number of adults, especially older adults, has increased considerably since 2015.
Older adults make up 10% of the homeless population in Minnesota.
While, proportionally, older adults (55 and older) make up the smallest age group of those experiencing homelessness, they saw the biggest increase in homelessness (up 25% from 2015).
Similarly, the number of homeless adults age 25-54 is up 20%.

Between 2015 and 2018, there was a considerable increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness who were not in a formal shelter.
Most people who were interviewed in outreach locations had spent time staying in a variety of locations throughout the month of the study. The majority of these were in unsheltered locations such as encampments, in their cars, or riding public transportation. Many piece together night-to-night accommodations, which may include staying with others doubled-up or couch hopping.
It is impossible to identify all people experiencing homelessness who are not in a formal shelter. These numbers can be impacted by variations in outreach efforts and the visibility of the population. The 2018 study was conducted in conjunction with increased visibility of people staying in encampments and on public transportation. In addition, there were homeless outreach events conducted throughout the state that also allowed access to those not staying in shelter.

In the 2018 study, 26% of people experiencing homelessness were not in a formal shelter.
The number of people not in a formal shelter increased 62% between 2015 and 2018.

This trend line displays the number of people not in a formal shelter (outside or doubled up), from 2009-2018. The numbers range from 2,257 in 2009 to 2,694 in 2018.

Homelessness increased across Minnesota.
Overall, in both the 7-county Twin Cities metro area (up 9%) and greater Minnesota (up 13%), there were more people experiencing homelessness in 2018 compared to 2015.
This was especially evident in the population not in a formal shelter, which was up 93% in the Twin Cities metro and up 36% in greater Minnesota.
The distribution of the homeless population between the Twin Cities metro (66%) and greater Minnesota (34%) is similar to the distribution found in the 2015 study.
Read the fact sheet
Explore the data tables
Explanation of 2018 data
These findings are based on the 2018 Minnesota Homeless Study counts data. These reports break down the counts data by shelter types, age, gender, and family status.

Note that these counts do not include estimates of the uncounted or unidentified homeless population. These counts also do not include in-depth characteristics of Minnesota’s homeless population or the count of those experiencing homelessness on American Indian reservations. Total single night estimates of Minnesota’s homeless population will be reported in fall 2019.

What’s next?
Future reports will include findings from thousands of face-to-face interviews conducted throughout Minnesota, as well as a separate report about interviews conducted in partnership with six of Minnesota’s Native American tribes.

Throughout the next year, Wilder Research will also publish specialized reports related to homelessness among youth, Veterans, older adults, and other specific populations.