|Type of paper:||Literature review|
|Categories:||Society Literature review Human services|
Homelessness is the lack of a fixed, regular, adequate shelter. The nature of homelessness can be chronic, transitional and episodic. A person is considered to be homeless if they live on the street, abandoned buildings, shelter houses, single-room facilities, vehicles, and other places that are not permanent housing. Homelessness is a problem that almost every country globally faces. In America, the state of Minnesota has an increasing number of homeless people. The number of Minnesotans who do not have permanent shelter is alarming, which has doubled the number of homeless people. The causes of homelessness in Minnesota range from eviction from houses, unemployment, and domestic problems. Homeless people in Minnesota are across all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Both young and old people are homeless in Minnesota. A review of the literature on the topic of homelessness in Minnesota is important because it provides a critical evaluation of the states of affairs in Minnesota. The literature covers a comprehensive review about the state of homelessness in Minnesota, facts about homelessness, causes of homelessness, efforts to reduce the number of the homeless, and policy implementation of homelessness.
Current and past Statistics of Homelessness in Minnesota
Wilder Research conducts studies on homelessness in every three years. In 1991, the center found that total count of homeless people was 3079, among them 889 were children with parents. In 1993, a total of 4553 were homeless inclusive of 1791 who were children with parents. In 1997, 5645 were homeless and 2294 were children with parents. In 2000, 7696 were homeless inclusive of 3178 who were parents with their children. In 2003, 7854 were homeless and 2862 were children with their parents. In 2006, 751 were homeless and 2726 were children with their parents. In 2009, the number rose to 9654 where 2726 were children with their parents. In 2012, the number rose to 10, 214, where 3546 were children with their parents. In 2015, the number declined to 9, 32, where 3296 were children with their parents. Furst (2017) affirms that in 2017, the homeless population was 3899, 3769 people who were children and their parents, 889 unaccompanied homeless youth, 281 veterans and 813 chronically homeless individuals, which the number decreased by 4.5% in 2016.
Wilder research conducted a study in October 22nd, 2015 about homelessness in Minnesota. During that time, they found that a total of 9, 312 people were homeless (Wilder Research, 2016). According to Brandt (2016), the number dropped from the 2012 count, which was 10,214. Wilder Research (2016) indicates that during the 2015 study, the number of people counted did not represent the number of homeless people fully. According to the research center, during the single night of the study, those who were in shelter systems and those who found temporary places to stay were not available in the night during the study. According to the research center, up to 15,000 people are homeless in every single night, and close to 40,000 Minnesotans experiencing homelessness in that year.
Facts about Homelessness
A 2015 study by Wilder Research found the following facts about homelessness in Minnesota
Since 2006, the rate of homelessness in Minnesota has declined
In their study, Wilder Research (2016) found that that the number of homeless people decreased by 9% between 2012 and 2015. The number was 32% between 2006 and 2012. The researchers suggest that in 7-county twin cities metro area, the rate of homelessness decreased by 8% between 2012 and 2015, while it decreased in greater Minnesota by 13%. The research revealed that the reason for the decrease in greater Minnesota is that most people do not stay outside the shelter system.
Young people are more likely to be homeless
In Minnesota, young people aged 24 and younger are likely to be homeless (Homelessness in Minnesota, n.d). The rate of homeless children and their parents is (35%) where 47% of the children are under 5 years, and the rate of young adults who are homeless on their own is 16%. However, Wilder Research (2016) found that the number of children experiencing homelessness with their parents decreased by 7% from 2012-2015.
African-Americans and Indian-Americans are susceptible to being homeless
Wilder Research (2016) found that African-Americans and Indian-Americans are more likely to be homeless in Minnesota compared to other races. Up to 39% of homeless adults in Minnesota re Africa-Americans compared to 5% statewide while the rate of Indian homeless adults in Minnesota is 8% compared to 1% statewide (Homelessness in Minnesota, n.d).
The number of homeless adults aged 55 or older is increasing
Since 2012, the rates of adults aged 55 and above who are homeless in Minnesota increased by 8% (Homelessness in Minnesota, n.d). Though, the growth of the number of homeless adults and that of this age group is similar in the entire population of homeless Minnesotans.
Most homeless adults served in the military
Homelessness in Minnesota (n.d) indicates that 8% of homeless adults served in the military and 43% of homeless veterans reported service-related health problems. Wilder research (2016) found that the most common health problems reported by these veterans are mental health and hearing problems. Furthermore, the author adds that less than half of these veterans reported that they receive military benefits.
Causes of Homelessness in Minnesota
A 2015 study by Wilder Research found the following about the reasons that homelessness is prevalent in Minnesota
Lack of affordable housing
According to Homelessness in Minnesota (n.d), 36% of adults in Minnesota reported that they left their previous housing because of their inability to pay rent and 22% reported that they could not afford any housing in the area. Furthermore, 41% of those who are homeless are on a waiting list for subsidized housing and 14% are unable to get to the list.
In Minnesota, almost two-thirds of homeless adults do not have a source of income (Homelessness in Minnesota, n.d). 30% of adults who are homeless in Minnesota are reported to have lost their jobs or have had their hours cut because they have lost housing. The study by Wilder Research (2016) found that the lack of employment prevents homeless people from being stably re-housed. Besides, 38% of adults reported that they were unable to find a good source of employment, so their likelihood of getting housing diminished. Since 2012, the median length of people who have been unemployed is just 23 months.
Failure to maintain housing due to chronic diseases
Homelessness in Minnesota, (n.d) indicates that most adults in Minnesota have health conditions. 60% of homeless adults are reported to go through mental illness and 51% have chronic health conditions. Wilder Research (2016) puts forward that of those who have a mental illness, 42% have anxiety and panic disorder, 39% have major depression, 22% have bipolar disorder, 15% have anti-social or obsessive-compulsive disorders, 7% are schizophrenic, and 6% have other paranoid or delusional disorders. Furthermore, of those who have chronic health conditions, 30% have high blood pressure, 20% have asthma, 12% have other respiratory problems, 11% have heart and circulatory problems, and 9% have diabetes. Because of such conditions, the rate of homelessness rises because these adults are unable to find stable housing. () adds that on in 5 homeless adults have substance abuse disorder.
(2) Abuse and violence
Most women in Minnesota are homeless due to the effects of domestic violence. Homelessness in Minnesota (n.d) indicates that the percentage is at 35%, which is much higher compared to other studies since 1991. (2016) affirms that more than 37% of homeless adults reported having stayed in an abusive relationship because they had nowhere to go.
Ripple effects of discrimination and systematic inequities
Homelessness in Minnesota (n.d) indicates that racism is high in Minnesota, which has led to discriminations regarding getting stable housing. These racial disparities are evident across all genders, age groups, and geographical locations.
Efforts to reduce Homelessness in Minnesota
Grumdahi & Cathy (2018) indicate that previously, the council had another plan called "heading home plan," which reduced the rate of homelessness in Minnesota significantly. Heading Home Together-Minnesota's 2018-2020 Action Plan to Prevent Homelessness (n.d) indicates that the plan was first launched in January of 2014 with four population goals. The four population goals for reducing the rate of homelessness are the following,
- Complete the job of curbing veteran homelessness
- Complete the job of ending chronic homelessness
- Prevent and eliminate homelessness among the youth and young adults who do not have parents or guardians by the end of 2020
- Prevent and curb homelessness among families who have children by the end of 2020
Grumdahi & Cathy (2018) articulates that on March 8th, 2018, Minnesota concocted an action plan that would help to curb homelessness. According to the authors, the plan builds on the success of two previous "heading home together" plans. It came up with seven principles in the plan that would assist in ending homelessness. As the authors indicate, the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, which comprises of members of the Governor's cabinet came up with and adopted the plan. As they indicate, the plan of family homelessness decreased by 20%, chronic homelessness dropped by 27%, and veteran homelessness dropped by 56%. The seven principles put in place to prevent and eliminate homelessness in the "heading home plan" include the following,
- Locate and make all homeless people involved in the process
- Make sure that every individual who is likely to be or homeless manages to gain access to a safe and necessary crisis response through distraction, prevention, shelter, or crisis housing.
- Ensure that every person who is homeless, especially those who are vulnerable gets access to housing and appropriate resources that would ultimately lead to their survival.
- Ensure that the number of affordable housing is sufficient to make sure that those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless get a place to stay.
- Take a person-centered, trauma-informed, and housing first approach to help the homeless and those who are at risk of being homeless.
- Assist people who are homeless or those who are at risk of being homeless to secure gainful employment that would help them get housing.
- Make systematic arrangement to ensure that plans and partnerships are in place to prevent and curb homelessness.
According to Grumdahi & Cathy (2018), the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness indicates that the seven principles organize the strategies of their plan. Besides, as the authors indicate, the council states that the developmental process of "heading home together" plan took nine months. Furthermore, many residents of Minnesota were involved in the creation of the plan, with more than 40 organizations, stakeholders, and coalitions involved in the process.
Policy Implementation Regarding Homelessness in Minnesota
The Homeless Youth Act is a policy, which aims to provide temporary shelter, counseling, and aftercare services to the homeless and those who are at risk of being homeless. Homeless Youth Act Biennial Report (2017) indicates that the Homeless Youth Act is the current legislation in place. The Homeless Youth Act (HYA) has in it the definitions of runaway youth, homeless youth, and those at risk of homelessness (). Besides that, it defines the continuum of services for the youth, which includes emergency shelter and housing, drop-in services, and outreach.
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