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Housing report shows mixed picture in Minn.

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Newly released housing data show some signs of recovery from the economic downturn, but other indicators remain troubling.

Home foreclosures in the Twin Cities dropped to the lowest number in about two years in the final quarter of 2010, according to the Minnesota Housing Partnership report. At the same time, the number of families in homeless shelters in Hennepin County was almost unchanged from the same period last year. 

"There's some rays of hope, but overall what we saw in this report is that the housing market and all the people impacted by the housing market have a long way to go before we can call it any kind of real recovery," said Leigh Rosenberg, the research and outreach manager for the Minnesota Housing Partnership. 

Rosenberg said the decrease in the number of foreclosures was probably the result of several banks declaring a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. 

"It's hard to say what to make of that in trying to understand trends," Rosenberg said.

The report showed some positive signs for homeowners. The percentage of people falling more than 60 days behind on mortgage payments dropped for a fourth consecutive quarter - to 6.5 percent. 

The rental market continued to tighten in the fourth quarter. The vacancy rate dropped to 3.8 percent - the lowest in more than two years. 

The report also highlighted a drop in the number of employees in residential housing construction. The industry averaged 8,900 jobs a month in the fourth quarter - the lowest fourth-quarter number since 1993.