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Tough Climb for MN Housing Construction Workers & Delinquent Homeowners

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April 5, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - Being a housing construction worker in Minnesota right now is a tough road to travel. New data from the "2x4" report by the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) reveals that fewer workers were able to earn a living by building and rehabbing homes than in any fourth quarter since 1992, as the number employed fell to 8,500. In the last four years, Minnesota has lost over half its housing construction jobs. In addition, more than eight percent of homeowners are falling behind on mortgage payments.

Leigh Rosenberg, research and outreach manager with the Minnesota Housing Partnership, says things are hard.

"These are people's lives, and it's a difficult time. We are hopeful that some early signs of stability and economic improvement will continue, but these are just very difficult times for many families across the state."

Rosenberg says there are a couple of bright spots. The real estate market is stabilizing and there's been a dramatic drop in Hennepin County homelessness, likely due to the roll-out of a federal homeless prevention program funded by the stimulus bill. But she says homelessness was still 66 percent higher in the 4th quarter of 2009 than in the 4th quarter of 2006.

Rosenberg says investing in housing on a state and federal level could be a big jump start to solving some of these housing and unemployment issues.

"Rehabbing and building apartments and homes that are affordable to Minnesotans itself creates jobs and also can generate much needed revenue for the state."

The MHP "2x4" report is intended to help policymakers develop a response to Minnesota's housing crisis.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN