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Report counts more than 10,200 homeless Minnesotans

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A new report shows homelessness is on the rise in Minnesota.

More than 10,200 homeless adults, youth, and children were counted October 2012 in shelters, transitional housing, at hot meal programs, or on the streets. That's up 6 percent from the last count in 2009. The count was conducted by St. Paul-based Wilder Research, which plans to release detailed data on the background and characteristics of the homeless population in mid-April.

Of those homeless people counted, 46 percent were age 21 or younger, and 3,546 were children with their parents. There was a 4 percent increase in the total number of homeless families, and a 22 percent increase in the number of two-parent families experiencing homelessness.

Greg Owen, co-director of the study, said that people are still suffering from the economic downturn and the numbers are likely even higher than what Wilder Research found.

"This recession that hit us in 2007, 2008, and really still affects significantly people that are at the margin -- that recession has not fully worked itself out," Owen said. "Just because we hit the high on the DOW today, that doesn't mean that that high reaches everybody in our population."

Young people are most at risk for homelessness, Owen said. Children and youth age 21 years or younger make up nearly half of Minnesota's homeless population. The count also shows a jump in the number of adults age 55 and older who are experiencing homelessness.  

The increase is much smaller than the 25 percent jump in homelessness between 2006 and 2009. But Owen says there are reasons for concern, including a growing number of two-parent families experiencing homelessness.