A shortage of affordable housing has forced an increasing number of Minnesotans to the brink of homelessness, according to a new report by the Minnesota Housing Partnership.
Almost half of renters and a third of homeowners in Minnesota spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the threshold used by many agencies to determine whether housing is affordable.
For extremely low-income households, the numbers are even more staggering. About 83 percent of renters earning less than $20,000 a year live in unaffordable housing.
Over the past nine years, Minnesota has experienced the fastest increase of extremely low-income households living in unaffordable housing in the nation, according to the non-profit agency's report.
"People are having to choose between, 'Am I going to pay for my rent?' or 'Am I going to be able to pay for groceries?'" said Leigh Rosenberg, Minnesota Housing Partnership's research and outreach coordinator. "At that level it becomes really frightening."
Rents have risen much faster in Greater Minnesota than in the Twin Cities. Some rural areas, including Le Sueur, Crow Wing and Pine Counties, saw rental rates more than double since 2001.
Rosenberg attributes the increases to several factors, including limited federal and state investment in affordable housing and an overall lack of rental housing in non-urban areas.
The report includes data from several sources, including federal and state government agencies.
Housing affordability information for each county can be viewed at: www.mhponline.org/research/county-profiles.