Report: 94% of MN Counties Lack Affordable Rental Housing

The Minnesota Housing Partnership also found that about half of Minnesota renters paid more than they could afford for their homes in 2010.

While luxury apartments seem to be popping up across the Twin Cities, lower-cost rental housing appears to be severely lacking.
 
A Tuesday report from the Minnesota Housing Partnership indicated that 94 percent of Minnesota’s counties have a deficit in rental housing that’s affordable and available to the state’s lowest-income residents. Additionally, almost half of the 82 counties that have such a deficit need more than double their current supply in order to meet basic needs. However, construction of new multi-family properties between 2006 an 2010 has reached a 50-year low.
 
The report also found that about half of Minnesota renters paid more than they could afford for their homes in 2010, according to Housing and Urban Development guidelines.
 
In Minnesota, there are 40 units of rental housing available for every 100 “extremely low-income renters,” according to the report. And it’s not just the unemployed who face challenges: Over the course of a year, the average food preparation or retail sales worker in Minnesota will fall more than $10,000 short of being able to afford decent and safe housing, as well as other basic needs, according to the report. Such workers cannot afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in any Minnesota county, even when working full time and earning the median income for their occupation.
 
Hennepin County ranks seventh among all Minnesota counties when it comes to having the lowest portion of available and affordable rental housing. According to the report, the county has 35 units for every 100 low-income individuals looking for housing. Meanwhile, Ramsey County has even fewer: 33 units for every 100 low-income residents on the apartment hunt. (Kanabec County had the fewest available units—just 27.)
 
The report also found that the median income in 74 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, or 85 percent, have declined since 1999 when adjusted for inflation.
 
“Economic improvements and a stabilizing market for home owners is good news,” Chip Halbach, executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, said in a prepared statement. “However, counties across the state lack housing options for lower-income workers, seniors, and young adults starting out. We can do better.”
 
While rental housing is lacking, luxury apartment units seem to be on the rise. In January, Flux Apartments—a $38 million, 216-unit development featuring resort-style residences—opened in Uptown Minneapolis. And a joint venture said Tuesday that it plans to complete construction of a 10-story, 192-unit luxury St. Louis Park apartment building in March. Meanwhile, 286 luxury apartments are part of a planned, $70 million complex called 222 Hennepin, located at the former Jaguar dealership site in downtown Minneapolis; completion is expected in summer 2013.