ST. PAUL (AP) -- Homelessness in Minnesota is continuing to increase, according to preliminary reports from a survey of the state's 188 shelters by the Wilder Research Center.
But there's also progress in the findings. Use of emergency shelters declined from three years earlier, while most of the statistical growth was in transitional housing programs designed to help people establish homes of their own.
"It reflects a policy of homeless advocates and the state to move toward longer-term solutions," said Greg Owen, who directed the state-financed survey for the Wilder Research Center.
The study, which is conducted on one night every three years, found 6,300 people in Minnesota homeless shelters on Oct. 26, up from 5,238 in the last Wilder study on Oct. 23, 1997. This year's total represents more than twice the 2,866 counted in 1991, the survey's first year, Owen said.
In the 2000 survey, however, the count of 1,653 people at emergency shelters was a slight decline from the 1997 figure of 1,700, while most of the overall increase was in transitional housing -- up nearly 900 to 4,015.
Transitional housing offers dwellings that are more permanent and private than emergency shelters, and offers social services to assist the homeless toward independent living. Units typically carry time limits of one month to two years, after which residents move to regular housing or sometimes graduate to buying or paying full rent for their transitional unit, Owen said.
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