Foreclosures, unemployment drive demand for sheltersby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The average number of families using Hennepin County homeless shelters each month was up by about 60 percent in 2008.
A new report by the non-profit Minnesota Housing Partnership shows that increasing unemployment and foreclosures are behind the trend.
The report, based on the most recent census and locally available data, also found that the number of households spending more than half their income on housing is up sharply as well -- with 1 in 8 households now paying more than half their income for housing.
Chip Halbach, executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, says the numbers are expected to grow worse this year as the recession deepens.
"It's a real combination of a worsening housing situation for most people, not everyone but for a good number of people, with far fewer resources to deal with it," Halbach said.
More than 200,000 Minnesotans were unemployed in December.
Halbach says increasing unemployment is likely to push even more Minnesotans into poverty this year.