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Report indicates more homelessness, greater renter and homeowner disparity

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Homelessness is on the rise in the state's largest cities, according to a report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

The report found that in the second quarter of this year Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth school districts reported nearly 1,000 newly homeless children. The study also found that the number of families seeking shelter in Hennepin County has increased by 17 percent since last year.

Rising rents and lower rental vacancies were among the factors that contributed to the increase in homelessness, according to Leigh Rosenberg, a researcher with the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

The number of pre-foreclosure notices is going down, while median home sale prices are going up, Rosenberg said. Rents in the Twin Cities rose in the second quarter of this year by $17 to an average of $951 per month, according to the study. The vacancy rate also was at a low 2.7 percent.

"I think all these trends together are contributing to more homelessness," Rosenberg said. "In addition we're hearing that many folks have run out of their unemployment benefits. This is also contributing."

The housing data indicate a growing disparity between renters and homeowners that is cause for concern, she said.

"We'd like to see recovery from the recession that lifts all boats," Rosenberg said.