Nearly half of MN renters are spending more than they can afford on housing, report finds

Spending too much on rent can make paying for things like food, education and medicine a lot harder.
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To pay for a place to live, more than one in four Minnesota households likely give up paying for other things, like food and medicine.

That's according to the Minnesota Housing Partnership's 2017 State of the State's Housing report released Monday, which notes that although homelessness is on the decline, 9,300 Minnesotans didn't have a place to sleep on a given night in 2015.

The report notes that housing is still a "major challenge" that impacts nearly every community in Minnesota, adding low- to moderate-income families and households of color bear the biggest burdens.

The report measures a bunch of different metrics to come up with key housing trends on the state, regional and county levels (you can see them all here). Among the key findings from the report:

  • Nearly 550,000 families spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Meanwhile, 23 percent of renters statewide are spending at least half of their income on rent. This can make paying for things like food, education and medicine difficult.
  • And the number of people who are spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent is going up – now 272,000 rental households are paying more than they can afford on rent (that's about half of all people who rent). And 60 percent of cost-burdened renters live in the Twin Cities region.
  • There's not enough affordable housing across Minnesota. In fact there's a deficit of 105,995 units for extremely low-income renters (a household of four that makes $25,000).
  • The median cost of rent has gone up 9 percent since 2000, from $779 to $848. But how much the median renter is making has actually gone down 11 percent, from $36,545 in 2000 to $32,602 in 2015.
  • Of the six most in-demand jobs in Minnesota (retail salesperson, registered nurse, food prep and serving, personal care aide, cashier and truck drivers), only two of them makes enough money to afford a two bedroom apartment, and those are registered nurses and truck drivers.
  • There are big disparities when it comes to who owns their home. The homeownership gap between white households and those of color has risen to 37 percent. The national average is 25 percent.

Chip Halbach, the executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, says that although Minnesota is a nationally-recognized leader in affordable housing, "much more needs to be done to keep pace with the growing need for affordable housing that we see across the state."

"From racial disparities to cost burden, many housing trends are going in the wrong direction," Halbach said, noting policymakers can't ignore affordable housing if they want "strong, equitable communities."

This report comes as lawmakers are considering funding for programs that could help homelessness. In a statement from Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, she said the report "highlights" the need for investments in housing, noting Gov. Mark Dayton's Opportunity Agenda for Better Minnesota includes $124 million in funding for affordable housing in Minnesota.

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