New face of homelessness in Minnesota

10:48 PM, Jan 6, 2011   |    comments
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  • New face of homelessness in Minnesota
  • New face of homelessness in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Rena Moran's new office at the Capitol is starting to feel like home. The new state representative has come a long.

Just 10 years ago, she moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago and had no home. Moran and her six children ended up at the Sharing and Caring Hands food shelf and shelter in Minneapolis.

"I walked into that shelter and I didn't know what it meant at all. But I had hope. I believed that my circumstances did not determine my outcome or where I would be. I saw it as a place to house us temporarily," Moran said.

Her family spent four months in the shelter before emerging from homelessness.

In Minnesota there are about 13,000 people who are homeless. A 2009 Wilder Foundation study found that the number of homeless people in the state actually went up from 2003.

"We had a 25 percent increase in homelessness across the state. The biggest jump was with youth and young adult population. (It) increased by about 46 percent," Greg Owen, a consulting scientist with Wilder, said.

According to the study, the recession has pushed more people out of their homes and getting them off the streets won't be easy.

"If you look at these groups of people you'll see that they have two, three, four, five types of barriers that will make it very difficult to get out of homelessness," Owen said.

Among those barriers are mental health issues, domestic violence and substance abuse. Breaking down those barriers may become more difficult as state programs experience budget cuts.

Moran said protecting the community from things like homelessness will be one of her top priorities. She said her journey out of a shelter and into the Capital wasn't an easy one but if she can do it so can others.

"When people are like wow you're a success story I'm just like, really? I just want to see more people doing it because I believe that we all have an opportunity to be a success story."

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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