Homelessness in Minnesota climbed 4.5 percent in 2017 compared to the year before, according to estimates released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Wednesday.
While many communities across the nation saw a decline or no change, the total homeless population in the state rose to 7,668.
Even with the increase, the number of homeless in Minnesota this year was 2.6 percent less than in 2010, which coincided with the national foreclosure crisis when many people lost their homes.
The latest homeless figures are based on a single night in January 2017 in which many local agencies seek to identify the number of individuals and families living in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered settings, according to HUD.
Monica Nilsson, a Twin Cities homeless advocate, said that a primary reason for the rise in homelessness is the loss of “naturally occurring affordable housing,” a category that refers to housing that’s not part of a subsidized program or social service.
One example, she noted, occurred in 2015 when hundreds of low-income tenants at Crossroads at Penn in Richfield were displaced when a developer bought the housing complex and renovated it into luxury apartments.
Rents are going up and more people are sleeping on trains and outside, said Nilsson, onetime chair of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.
The HUD report said the 2017 homeless population included 3,899 individuals, 3,769 people in families with children, 889 unaccompanied homeless youth, 281 veterans and 813 chronically homeless individuals.
The number of unsheltered, chronically homeless people more than doubled from 155 to 341 in one year and unsheltered homeless individuals rose 31 percent.