Q: How is the survey conducted? How do you find homeless people to survey?
The study is a point-in-time survey of people throughout the state who meet the federal definition of homelessness. It is conducted every three years on the last Thursday in October at emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, transitional housing programs, social service agencies, encampments and abandoned buildings.
We work closely with homeless service providers to obtain counts of all homeless people staying in some type of shelter that evening, and to help us coordinate interviews with the guests at these shelters. We also partner with service providers and homeless outreach workers to conduct interviews at drop-in service locations and to conduct street outreach. About two-thirds of those surveyed are in the metro area. We use trained volunteers to conduct the interviews. In 2018, we had more than 1,200 interviewers across nearly 400 locations statewide.
Q: How many questions are on the survey? How are the questions selected?
The Minnesota Homeless Study survey instrument is extensive and has grown since the study began. In 2018, there were more than 200 questions and sub-questions that address the overall homeless population as well as questions targeted to parents, youth on their own, and veterans.
Questions have been identified by housing advocates, policymakers and state planners, funders and researchers who develop the study. Where possible, standard questions are used that have been tested elsewhere – for example, the mental health questions came from a national health survey. The particular mix of questions in any given year is determined based on a balance between the need for a core set of consistent questions for solid trend data; new or revised items to respond to shifting policies, conditions, and needs; and the need to keep the survey to a manageable length.
See the complete 2018 Minnesota Homeless Study survey instrument. Note: Permission to download and copy this survey is granted for private, non-commercial and education purposes only. All reproductions of the survey or its individual questions require an acknowledgement of the source and author of the work. No resale use may be made of any report without written permission.
Wilder Research. (2018). Minnesota statewide survey of persons without permanent shelter interview schedule. Retrieved from https://www.wilder.org/wilder-research/research-library/minnesota-statewide-survey-persons-without-permanent-shelter
Q: Are survey respondents compensated for their time?
Yes. In 2018, survey respondents received $10 cash as a thank you for taking the time to participate in the interview.
Q: Are there other sources of information about homelessness in Minnesota, and how do they differ from Wilder's triennial study?
Wilder’s triennial statewide study of homelessness is considered the most comprehensive source of descriptive information about homeless adults, youth, and children in Minnesota. It is not intended to be a complete count because no study strategy can locate all homeless people. Other sources of information that complement our understanding of homelessness include:
- An annual point in time (PIT) count of persons living without shelter
- The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which includes client information compiled by all providers of federal and state funded supportive housing and emergency shelter