Saturday, July 31, 2010

Land of 10,000

For tourism purposes, one of Minnesota's slogans has long been the Land of 10,000 Lakes. That's actually an undercount, as geographers put the number of lakes 10 acres or larger at 11,842.

We don't like to think too much, however, about also being the Land of 10,000 Homeless. Yet that is what we are.

Every three years, the Wilder Foundation, a highly respected nonprofit, conducts a systematic survey to identify the number of homeless people in Minnesota. On October 22 of last year, Wilder counted 9,654 people. The number rises to 13,100 - more than the number of lakes - when a formula developed by the federal Housing and Urban Development department is applied.

On any given night, the homeless poplulation in Minnesota includes 600 to 700 youth under 18.

The number of lakes has been stable for millenia, since the glaciers passed through. But the number of homeless has increased 20 percent in the last three years.

How can we, as citizens of Minnesota, get our arms around this enormous problem? Wilder offers resources to start making a difference.

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