Hennepin County street homelessness down 40 percent since 2010

Categories: How We Live
Hennepin County is home to less scenes of this sort than two years ago.
Street homelessness in Hennepin County is down considerably from two years ago, according to a city of Minneapolis report presented to the City Council today.

A count this January found 204 homeless people living on Hennepin County streets. That's down from 341 in 2010, meaning street homelessness declined 40 percent.

Cathy ten Broeke, the coordinator to end homeless for Minneapolis and Hennepin County, attributed the decline mainly  to outreach efforts, not an improving economy.

One outreach example is the work done by St. Stephen's outreach team, which has found housing for more than 350 people since the fall of 2007, the Southwest Journal reports.

Despite a decrease the past two years, ten Broeke pointed out that Hennepin County street homelessness is still above 2006's pre-recession level. She also said the number of people looking for spots at Twin Cities homeless shelters continues to increase. This suggests, as ten Broeke acknowledges, that the economic recovery isn't yet translating into permanent housing for the Twin Cities' poorest.

ten Broeke said:
Cathy ten Broeke.jpeg
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ten Broeke: Improving economy not reducing homelessness, at least not yet.
The big picture take is that homelessness overall has risen since 2006. We have lots of new people coming into shelters. We believe that is directly related to the economy and as the economy improves, the numbers coming in should slow. For example, there are seven new people on Currie Avenue every night. Our prevention efforts have prevented a much larger crisis, but numbers, particularly in the family shelter are concerning.

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Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Did we forget an important underlying aspect of this decrease?

Mayor R.T. Rybak said, "a crackdown on illegal panhandling would be part of a larger strategy aimed at the causes of homelessness."

Cathy ten Broeke, (shown above) the city-county coordinator to end homelessness, said she is supportive of city plans to target aggressive solicitation, but she said outreach workers are the best way to help panhandlers who are not breaking the law.

The city has contributed $100,000 to hire outreach workers that will start work in July. The outreach workers will initially focus on areas where police tend to confront people who have no address, and they will also target the highest users of the jail and shelter systems here. A two-month survey recently completed by staff in Hennepin County’s Office to End Homelessness found that of 45 legal panhandlers surveyed, 23 had spent one night in the hospital, 24 had spent a night in detox or residential treatment, and 23 had spent a night in jail. Over the past year, they had accumulated a total of 77 hospital admits, 181 detox or residential treatment admits, and 96 jail admits.

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