More affordable housing needed across MN as rents continue to rise, report finds

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The rising cost of rent isn't just a problem in the Twin Cities, it's affecting people all around the state, especially as the average renters' income falls.

Twenty-seven percent of Minnesota families are renters, but with rising rental prices, many struggle to afford their payments or basic living costs, the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) found in its annual County Profiles report released Wednesday.

Rent in 82 of the state's 87 counties has increased since 2000 (see map above). Statewide, the average rent has gone up 7 percent, while the median renter income has fallen 17 percent, MHP says.

The steepest increases in rent were in greater Minnesota, where there is less focus on building affordable housing units (see more on this below). The county with the largest rental price-income gap is Big Stone County on the South Dakota border.

There, median rental prices have risen 68 percent since 2000, while renters' income has only gone up 3 percent in that time. 

The five counties that haven't seen an increase in rental prices are: Benton County, 0 percent increase; Kittson County, down 1 percent; Dakota County, down 3 percent; Wilkin County, down 4 percent; and Roseau County, down 7 percent.

For more specific data from each county, click here.

Affordable housing production not meeting demand

Construction of multifamily housing has been at a standstill in much of Minnesota in recent years, and because the supply isn't keeping up with the demand, the cost of rent continues to rise, MHP says.

Between 2009 and 2014, about a quarter of counties had no new building permits for multifamily housing, while another quarter of the state's counties had fewer than 20 units permitted (see map at right), MHP notes.

The counties that have seen the highest number of building permits for multifamily units have been concentrated in the Twin Cities and larger metro areas in greater Minnesota, MHP notes.

But a lot of these buildings are high-end, luxury apartments, which aren't filling the need for affordable housing in the region.

The Metropolitan Council, which is a policy-making and planning board for the Twin Cities region, echoed these findings in a report published Monday.

The report says affordable housing production in the Twin Cities region is not keeping up with the need.

In 2006, an advisory panel to the Met Council determined that the Twin Cities region would need to add over 52,000 affordable housing units between 2011 and 2020 to meet future needs, noting "with less than 3,000 affordable units added since 2011, this level of production remains largely unrealized," the report says.

The Pioneer Press notes that at this rate, it will take 47 years to reach that goal.

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