A woman is seated at a table with stacks of survey booklets in front of her. She holds a pencil as she flips through a survey.

About the Study

How this point-in-time study is conducted and why it matters


The Minnesota Homeless Study, conducted every three years, is a point-in-time study aimed at better understanding the prevalence of homelessness and the circumstances of those experiencing homelessness statewide.

The most recent study took place on October 25, 2018.


The next Minnesota Homeless Study will take place in October 2023

Wilder Research, with the support of public and private funders, housing service providers, and volunteer interviewers, has conducted the study since 1991. Since 2006, Wilder Research, in partnership with six Minnesota tribal nations, has also conducted the Reservation Homeless Study, which looks specifically at homelessness on American Indian reservations.

Why is this study important? 

The Minnesota Homeless Study is the most comprehensive source of descriptive information about homeless adults, youth, and children in the state. The data and reports produced from this work equip users with the information they need to identify and address systemic issues, improve programs and policies, and, ultimately, eliminate homelessness in Minnesota.

Having many years of data allows us to look at trends over time, and the breadth and depth of the study (through thousands of face-to-face interviews) allows us to look more closely at the experiences of specific populations, such as older adultsunaccompanied youth, the LGBTQ communityVeterans, and American Indians living on reservations.

How we conduct the study

The Minnesota Homeless Study is a point-in-time study of people experiencing homelessness across the state. It is conducted every three years in October at emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, transitional housing programs, social service agencies, encampments, and abandoned buildings.

The study includes people who meet a federal definition of homelessness. For the Reservation Homeless Study, the study population is expanded to include those who are near homeless.

The study includes two primary methods of data collection:

  • Face-to-face interviews with people experiencing homelessness (statewide and reservation studies)
  • A count of people experiencing homelessness (statewide study only)

Wilder Research works closely with homeless service providers to get counts of all people staying in shelter settings on the night of the study, and to help coordinate face-to-face interviews with those staying at these shelters. Wilder also partners with service providers and homeless outreach workers to conduct interviews at drop-in service locations and to conduct street outreach.

Trained volunteers conduct interviews.

More than 1,000 volunteer interviewers conduct interviews in over 300 locations across Minnesota. Wilder Research staff provide training to interviewers in preparation for the study. More than 4,000 interviews are done with people experiencing homelessness; respondents who complete an interview are given $10 cash as a thank you for participating.

About the Survey Instrument

An extensive instrument is used to conduct interviews.

A stack of blank Minnesota Homeless Study survey instruments bound by a rubber band.

Questions have been identified by housing advocates, policymakers and state planners, funders, and researchers who develop the study.

Where possible, standard questions are used that have been tested elsewhere.

Permission to download and copy this instrument is granted only for private, non-commercial and educational purposes. All reproductions of the instrument or its individual questions require an acknowledgement of the source and author of the work. No resale use may be made of any report without written permission.

Suggested Citation

Wilder Research. (2018). Minnesota statewide survey of persons without permanent shelter interview schedule

How the study is funded

The Minnesota Homeless Study is supported through a combination of government, foundation, and corporate grants, contracts, and contributions as well gifts from individuals.

Thank you to these institutions that have contributed to the success of the 2023 study.

Minnesota Department of Human Services
Hardenbergh Foundation
Pohlad Family Foundation
Greater Twin Cities United Way

Partnerships like these make the study the valuable resource it is. If you are interested in contributing to the study, contact Michelle Decker Gerrard at

Additional data sources

Other sources of information that complement our understanding of homelessness

An annual point in time (PIT) count of “sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night during the last ten days in January,” required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which includes client information compiled by all providers of federal- and state-funded supportive housing and emergency shelter