Report: Homelessness down in MN, but many youths still on streets

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There are more than 7,500 homeless people in Minnesota – nearly a thousand fewer than there were last year.

That's being reported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), whose annual survey of homelessness in America indicates an overall downward trend in Minnesota's homelessness.

The data, released this month, shows Minnesota dropped in most major categories, with fewer families, veterans, and individuals (meaning people who are on their own) displaced in the state.

Here's a look at some of the more encouraging numbers: According to the 2014 report, there were 8,377 homeless people in Minnesota overall. This year's report says there are now 7,546.

Meanwhile, there were 4,725 families dealing with homelessness last year. The 2015 report indicates it's now 3,924.

There were also slight decreases when it came to homeless individuals and homeless vets, though those improvements were much more modest.

So why the seeming decline? Well, for one, it's not just in Minnesota – it's national. In a Thursday press release, HUD said there has been a "26 percent drop in the unsheltered homeless population since 2010." That's when Opening Doors, a nationwide strategy to "prevent and end homelessness," launched.

The program combines the efforts of state and federal agencies with homeless advocates, private sector companies and faith-based organizations to provide affordable housing and access to employment. You can read more about how it works by clicking here.

The downside

There are a couple of troubling things from the report worth noting, however.

According to the figures, there are 733 unaccompanied youths (25 years old or under, and on their own) suffering from homelessness in Minnesota. That's an increase from last year, when there were 636.

But in the Hennepin County/Minneapolis area, the rate of unsheltered unaccompanied children and youth is 0.9 percent, the third-lowest rate among major cities.

And there are 1,124 chronically homeless in the state this year – that refers to "individuals with disabilities who have either been continuously homeless for a year or more or have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years," HUD says. Last year, there were 885. That's a jump of more than 200.

Still, the national trend indicates overall improvement, with veteran homelessness declining by 36 percent, family homelessness declining by 19 percent, and chronic homelessness by 22 percent HUD says.

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