Minnesota American Indian Homelessness Survey

Minnesota American Indian Homelessness Survey


In 2006, CSH collaborated with Tribal Nations to implement the first-ever homeless survey to quantify the scale and scope of homelessness among American Indians living on tribal lands.

The Minnesota Reservation Homeless Survey assesses six northern Minnesota Tribal Nations. In 2009, the second survey included two additional Tribal Nations. Along with the Minnesota Statewide Homeless Survey, they provide insight into homelessness and near-homelessness among American Indians in Minnesota.

Impact and Outcomes

FINDING #1: American Indians are significantly overrepresented among the homeless population in Minnesota. American Indians make up 1% of the general state population, but 11% of the off-reservation homeless adult population.

FINDING #2: Doubling up is a common occurrence among homeless American Indians. On reservations, extended family ties are strong, and doubling up with family members is often the last resort before an individual becomes literally homeless. In 2006, 2/3 of doubled-up individuals lived in housing that was overcrowded, with an average of 1.5 people per room.

FINDING #3: There are higher proportions of women, children, and youth among American Indians than among other population groups in Minnesota. About 20% of homeless youth ages 12–17 are American Indian compared to only 1% of the general population.

FINDING #4: Homeless American Indians living off reservations have higher levels of both economic and individual distress. The average monthly income among homeless American Indian adults was just $364 per month, compared to $517 for other homeless adults. American Indian adults had higher rates of self-reported alcoholism or chemical dependence (52%) than homeless adults in the general population (32%).

The surveys give Tribal Nations and American Indian nonprofits a quantifiable tool to leverage funding for housing and services. The results? Over $25 million in federal, state and philanthropic funds have been acquired for supportive housing projects in Minnesota since 2006. To date, these dollars have created 16 supportive housing programs— 11 on tribal land and 5 off tribal land —for American
Indians. That’s over 250 new units of housing!

Next Steps

The success and impact of the surveys has sparked significant interest by Tribal Nations from across the country. In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is looking to the surveys as they consider a national housing needs assessment in Indian country. CSH is ready to join these partners to organize and conduct additional surveys, as we refine and expand the Minnesota Reservation Homeless Survey for 2012.


The surveys were developed in collaboration with Tribal Nations, Wilder Research and multiple public agencies, and was financially supported by the Blandin Foundation, the Housing Assistance Council, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Minnesota Housing, and the Minnesota Housing Partnership. CSH is grateful for the support and participation of all these Tribal Nations, agencies and organizations.

“This partnership has been invaluable to our Band. The survey gave us important and specific data that helped us leverage more than $4.5 million to build our first supportive housing development.”
—Chairwoman Karen Diver, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa



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