Affordable Housing Becoming Harder To Find In Minnesota

By: Bill Sorem, UpTake Reporter

What would you do if you didn’t have a home or were in danger of losing your home?

It’s not just a hypothetical question for an increasing number of people in Minnesota.

570,000 households or about 20% of the state’s households are what is called “cost burdened.” Those are households where 30% or more of the household income is spent on housing. 75% of those cost burdened households are renters and a majority are severely cost burdened — meaning 50% or more of the household income is spent on housing, which has severe consequences for a family’s health care, education, and career aspirations.

Worries about having a roof over your head causes a level of stress that is going to have an lasting impact Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency told a recent League Of Women Voters Minneapolis Civic Buzz meeting. “Housing is the foundation for success.”

“Housing has something to do with everything,” said Debra Behrens, Chief Advancement Officer, Aeon an organization that focuses on helping people find quality affordable homes. “What I’ve seen in my work with Aeon is that we’re providing people who have faced extraordinary barriers in their lives with an opportunity to achieve a stable a foundation which then allows them to decide what are the goals I want to pursue in my life.”

Making the rent is making people stressed. In Minneapolis rents have risen an average of 10% since 2000 while income has dropped during that same period by 6%. That’s because Minneapolis has a tight housing market with a vacancy rate of just 3.8% and that pushes up rents. Minneapolis also has the largest disparity in home ownership between blacks and white in the country.

The good news is Minneapolis is doing better with affordable housing than cities that are growing very fast such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, New York and Washington DC.

Looking for solutions: watch the entire discussion

Video above: League of Women Voters Minneapolis Civic Buzz discussion

Debra Behrens, Chief Advancement Officer, Aeon, property management company

Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

Gretchen Nicholls, Program Officer / Corridor Development Initiative, Twin Cities LISC, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

The affordable housing issue is getting more attention ahead of this fall’s mayoral election. The topic is the focus of a mayoral candidates forum scheduled for Oct 2nd which will be live streamed on The UpTake. City Council candidates for ward 7 and ward 11 will also discuss affordable housing on September 19 and October 10th respectively.

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