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Study: Minnesota Public Housing in Disrepair

May 27, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota's public housing is showing its age. A new report by the Minnesota Housing Partnershipfinds sharp funding cuts and rising maintenance costs have combined to put public units in more than 200 communities across the state in jeopardy. Executive Director Chip Halbach says the units serve an essential need.

"It's a very scarce housing resource, that provides stable homes to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities."

The study finds the housing is deteriorating rapidly, and some units are becoming health and safety threats as
federal and state investments fail to keep up with the maintenance needs. Halbach says this leaves low-income renters with less housing security, yet paying more.

"The managers of these units were under severe pressure to keep the quality of units up. What they've had to do was pass costs along, understanding that the average annual income of residents of public housing is just above $12,000 per year. Other owners have actually had to sell off some of the public housing."

Halbach believes it's time for the federal government to live up to its obligation to maintain the public housing stock.

"We need the federal government to reverse the seven years of inadequate funding for the operations, and to make needed repairs. At the state level, we need to provide enough money to these agencies running public housing, so that they do not lose any more of these units while federal solutions are in the works."

He adds most of the households are headed by seniors or people with disabilities, and many of the occupants are children. He says a growing need and a lack of new units have led to long waiting lists to get public housing, even units that are in substandard condition. Read the full report online, at www.mhponline.org.

Jim Wishner/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MN