Every three years, Wilder Research conducts a one-night statewide survey of homeless people in Minnesota to better understand the prevalence, causes, circumstances, and effects of homelessness. The most recent study was conducted on October 22, 2015.

Homelessness in Minnesota is down for the first time since 2006


Key Findings

On the night of the survey, 9,312 homeless adults, youth, and children were counted, down 9% from 2012. The 9% decrease between 2012 and 2015 follows a jump of 32% between 2006 and 2012.

  • Young people are most at risk of experiencing homelessness. Of all age groups, children and youth age 24 and younger are the most likely to be homeless in Minnesota. This includes children with their parents (35%) and youth (minors and young adults) on their own (16%). Nearly half (47%) of these children are age 5 or under.
  • African Americans and American Indians also face a disproportionate risk of homelessness. African Americans make up 39% of homeless adults, but only 5% of adults statewide. American Indians make up 8% of homeless adults, compared to 1% statewide.
  • The number of homeless older adults age 55 and older are increasing, but they are still the least likely to be homeless. Adults age 55 and older who are homeless increased by 8 percent since 2012. However, the growth in the number of homeless older adults is similar to the growth of this age group in the overall Minnesota population.
  • 8% of homeless adults have served in the military. This proportion is the same as the overall adult Minnesota population and similar to previous surveys. Nearly half (43%) of homeless Veterans report having service-related health problems. Learn more about homeless Veterans in Minnesota.

Top reasons Minnesotans are homeless

  • Not enough affordable housing. Adults most often report leaving their last housing due to inability to afford rent or mortgage (36%), and 22% report there is no housing available that they can afford. 41% of homeless adults are on a waiting list for subsidized housing, and another 14% can’t get on a wait list because it is closed.
  • Lack of employment. 30% of homeless adults report losing a job or having their hours cut as a reason for losing housing, and 38 percent of homeless adults report a lack of job or income as a main barrier to obtaining housing. Almost two-thirds of homeless adults are unemployed. The median length of time people have been unemployed is 23 months, which is unchanged since 2012.
  • Obstacles to maintaining housing: Chronic health conditions. More than half (60%) of homeless adults report a significant mental illness and 51% have a chronic health condition. Such illnesses represent significant barriers to obtaining and retaining safe and stable housing.
  • Obstacles to maintaining housing: Abuse and violence. 35% of homeless women are homeless as a result of domestic abuse. This is higher than reported in all previous Wilder studies since 1991.
  • Ripple effects caused by discrimination in housing and other systemic inequities. There continue to be glaring and persistent racial disparities in the populations of Minnesotans experiencing homelessness. Racial disparities occur among all age groups, genders, and geographic locations.

Read the full report: Homelessness in Minnesota: Findings from the 2015 Minnesota Homeless Study (pdf)

Additional reports will be released in early 2017 with detailed findings and in-depth analysis:

  • Homeless Youth in Minnesota
  • Homelessness on Minnesota Indian Reservations
  • Homeless Adults Age 55 and Older in Minnesota