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Study: Minnesota Losing Ground in Housing

December 14, 2006

St. Paul, MN - Looking for a reasonably priced rental home in Minnesota? Good luck. A new study ranks Minnesota behind 30 other states in affordability of rental housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition finds the average state renter earns $11 an hour, and needs to work 52 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, to afford an average-priced, two-bedroom apartment.

Chip Halbach, with the Minnesota Housing Partnership, says the report results reveal not only the skyrocketing cost of housing, but the irony of the "rental crunch."

"Minnesota falls behind other states because the economy has been relatively good here. So, you have some construction going on, but that's going into higher-priced housing ,while there are still many Minnesotans working for minimum wage, or slightly above minimum wage. What you have are people who are paying higher percentages of their income to afford that average-priced apartment. Those people are not being served by the private market."

Halback believes the reasons for the high rental housing costs can easily be addressed.

"The average renter is being paid $11 an hour, while the housing wage is $14. The Legislature can provide funding that would help bridge that gap, so you would have people in lower-paying jobs be able to find a place they can afford. It takes some public funding, so that people who are working hard have a decent place to live."

The report is consistent with a state study finding almost 48,000 Minnesotans on waiting lists for public housing, many of whom are either spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing, or are homeless. The full report is available online, at www.nlihc.org; information about the Minnesota Housing Partnership can be found at mhponline.org.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN