Wilder Research has conducted a statewide study of homelessness since 1991. The study is a point-in-time survey of people throughout the state who meet the federal definition of homelessness. It includes counts and estimates of the number of people who are homeless and a survey of homeless people with volunteers from across the state. This year, qualified volunteers explored more than 400 shelter locations throughout Minnesota (Twin Cities, Duluth, Brainerd, St. Cloud, and Mankato), and for a companion study on Minnesota American Indian reservations.
For more information about the Wilder Survey, click here.
Reflections from a Wilder Survey Interviewer
Sharon Mason is a long-time MCH supporter, and this was her first time participating in the Wilder Homeless Study. Read below as she reflects upon her experiences.
During the past half dozen years, my familiarity with the “Minnesota Statewide Survey of Persons Without Permanent Shelter”–or as it is widely known “Minnesota Homeless Study”–has centered on using the survey findings and reports for two purposes:
- Expand my personal understanding of this heartbreaking–and yet solvable–issue of Minnesotans not having adequate shelter
- Share what I’ve learned with others, including my legislators, in order to bring about change and action
- Prior to interviewing, training is required so that the surveys can be conducted statewide in a uniform, respectful, confidential manner. The people at Wilder were so thorough in preparing interviewers with sample materials, video resources, contact names and numbers, etc. It helped to have a good handle on the process before jumping in and I sensed that all the interviewers wanted to conduct these surveys with the utmost integrity!
- The survey is voluntary and confidential. Its 100 questions are personal and probing, and it takes 45 minutes or more to get through each survey. For both interviewer and interviewee, the survey can be challenging with questions covering a wide array of topics from current and past housing situations to employment and income sources, military service, health history, and childhood, to name a few.
- I saved the best for last as I consider what I experienced and learned as an interviewer. It’s about THE PEOPLE who are willing to be questioned yet one more time, who may have had mixed experiences with their attempts to access housing and social services that they need, who may feel trapped in their situation with few options to escape it, who may struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues, who may have experienced physical or sexual abuse in childhood or while homeless–the list goes on and on. I have deep respect for the interviewees and how they graciously bare their souls. Let’s not forget that the road to gathering reliable data about Minnesota’s homeless is paved with hundreds of vulnerable and often marginalized people who are willing to share their stories of powerlessness, frustration, dreams dashed, despair, and unanticipated twists and turns of life.
Where to go from here?
Learn more about the Wilder Homeless Study
- Frequently asked questions about the Minnesota Homeless Study
- 6 things to Know About the Minnesota Homeless Study