Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Youth Mentoring - Economic Impacts of Effective Programs

An article in today's StarTribune, highlights the resuts of a study conducted by Wilder Research's Chief Economist, Paul Anton, and Judy Temple of the University of Minnesota. The study shows that, when effective, mentoring programs for youth can produce savings for taxpayers.

This research adds another piece to our understanding of how we can effectively and economically promote the development of young people.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Editorial Encourages Follow Up to Wilder's Homeless Study

An editorial in the Pioneer Press today (April 12, 2007) encourages us to take the results of the latest homeless study and move forward as a community to make progress on this issue.

The editorial concludes: "Minnesota is responding. Cities, counties and the state have focused on the problem and on the underlying issues. There is no single or simple solution. Wilder's report reminds us that we need to take another look, and to see that these are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our ex-soldiers and former neighbors. And they need our help."

You can see the full editorial on today's Pioneer Press Opinion Page.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Homeless in Minnesota - A Few Facts

About 200 individuals joined us yesterday to take a look at highlights of Wilder Research's latest study of the homeless in Minnesota. This series of studies began in the early 1980s; it became statewide in the early 1990s.

You can obtain reports on the Wilder Research web site. Also, you can find slides from the first hour presentation.

By our estimates, the number of homeless people in Minnesota is between 9,200 and 9,300. That's roughly equal to, or possibly slightly less than, the numbers of three years ago. This estimate is based on a one-night count. We do a unique study that involves almost 1,000 volunteers who interview people who live in shelters and people who do not live in shelters throughout the state.

The study contains a great deal of information to which we need to pay attention, if we want to make progress on the issue of homelessness. In several blogs, I'll touch on a few pieces of relevant data; I'll also suggest issues, challenges, and ingredients for moving ahead successfully.

First, a few demographics:
- About half of the homeless in Minnesota are female; about half are male. This surprises many people.
- Very young adults (18-21) and the "middle aged" (35-54) tend to be over-represented among the homeless, relative to their proportion of the total state population. Older people (55+) are definitely under-represented among the homeless; people 55 and older comprise 28% of the state's adults, yet only 8% of homeless adults.
- Homeless adults tend to have less education than adults in general. For example, 63% of the state's adults over age 25 have some education beyond high school; 32% of homeless adults have that level of education.

The most striking demographic data relate to race:
- Blacks/African-Americans constitute 38% of homeless adults in contrast to 3% of Minnesota's adult population.
- American Indians constitute 11% of homeless adults in contrast to 1% of Minnesota's adult population.
- Latinos constitute 7% of homeless adults in contrast to 3% of Minnesota's adult population.
In short, groups of color are over-represented among the homeless.

Children also deserve some note:
- Of the roughly 9,200 homeless persons, about 3,400 are children.
- 2,800 of these are with their parents. This is more than the 875 that we found back in 1991.
- 600 are on their own
- Among children with their parents, about half are preschool age.
- The youngest child whom we interviewed living on their own was age 11.

In future blogs, I'll mention some additional information. However, more importantly, I'll focus on what we need to do to move ahead. If you want more facts, please take a look at the reports.

The team for this study deserves our appreciation. Dr. Greg Owen has directed this work since its first days 23 years ago. Principal staff who collaborated with him on this latest study include Ellen Shelton, Michelle Gerrard, Karen Ulstad, and June Heineman. Many others at Wilder Research also contributed. And, of course, it would not have occurred without the assistance of close to 1,000 volunteers, collaborating organizations, and our funders - all of whom hope that eventually this research will cease because we will have resolved the issue.

If you have thoughts, I would value the opportunity to hear them.