Hennepin County sees surge in families staying in homeless shelters

Hennepin County sees surge in families staying in homeless shelters

Hennepin County sees surge in families staying in homeless shelters

The number of families in homeless shelters is at its highest level in a decade in Hennepin County.

The county’s latest ‘shelter report’ shows 257 families were sleeping in shelters at last count in July, which is more than double the same time last year.

That includes 532 children and 318 adults.

The need for shelter far exceeds capacity, at 216% of 119 rooms.

The county’s Office to End Homelessness confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the trend is remaining steady heading into the fall.

“We’ve been pretty full almost every day,” said Emily Seddon, assistant director at Haven Housing, which runs St. Anne’s Place with 16 emergency shelter rooms for families. “What we hear on the ground is that when the eviction moratorium ended and families lost their homes, they also owed several thousand dollars in back rent.”

People Serving People, the largest family shelter in Minnesota, also reports a surge in need.

“We’ve seen a pretty steady climb to what may be historic demand for shelter,” said Jake Gale, chief operating officer and interim CEO at People Serving People.

Gale noted that not only are there more families in need of help, but they are staying in shelters longer.

“Since the lifting of the eviction moratorium and the lack of affordable housing inventory, it’s really created a perfect storm,” Gale said. “I think everyone’s doing what we can but resources are a concern and a constraint.”

Shelters are putting the call out to the community for help, saying they could use more volunteers and donations to help address this ongoing crisis.

“We’re going to need to do more and building new shelters doesn’t happen quickly, so we need to make sure we’re coming together to focus on, what are we going to do in two months when it gets really cold?” Seddon said.

Hennepin County’s Office to End Homelessness also provided this statement:

“Levels of family homelessness began increasing steeply following the end of pandemic-related federal rent assistance and the eviction moratorium in 2022, and have continued to grow. We continue to work with our teams in Human Services and with community partners to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring by working with families to prevent homelessness and helping homeless families to transition as quickly as possible into housing.”