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Report: Improved economy making it hard for low-income residents to get a home

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The improved housing market isn't helping all Minnesotans and may be making it harder for homeless families to find a permanent place to live, a new report says.

Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP)'s 2x4 Report notes unemployment is down, housing construction is up, home prices are rising and mortgage delinquencies are trending downward – which are all good signs when it comes to the housing market.

But the positive numbers are leading to some negative repercussions when it comes to affordability.

"The improved economy is providing welcome relief, but only for some," Chip Halbach, executive director of MHP, said in a news release.

The details

High and rising rents and home prices, coupled with the lack of high-paying jobs and racial disparities in employment, are likely making it harder for homeless people to find permanent housing, MHP says.

The dip in Twin Cities rental vacancies and statewide eviction filings have led to a rise in rent – the average rent in the Twin Cities hit $1,007 in the third quarter of 2014, up from $984 a year ago, the report notes.

As a result, more families are seeking shelters. An average of 372 homeless families sought shelter each month in Hennepin County between July and September of this year.

That's the highest it's been since 2006, excluding last year.

Children suffer

This is especially a concern for families with children. Consequences of not having a stable home can severely affect performance in school, Liz Kuoppala, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless said in the release.

The number of homeless children and youth are at its highest since data collection began in 2008. Nearly 4,000 children were identified as homeless in the first few months of the 2014-15 school year in four Minnesota districts, including Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“Making sure that Minnesota uses scarce resources wisely to keep people safe and stable and to create much-needed affordable housing will be priorities as we head into the 2015 Minnesota legislative session," Halbach said in the release.

MHP, along with over 100 organizations in the Homes for All alliance plan to ask lawmakers for $39 million to increase affordable housing around the state and provide additional services and resources for homeless people, Homes for All says.

During the 2014 Legislature, lawmakers designated $100 million in bond funds for affordable housing in the state.

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