Lack of affordable housing squeezing ever more Minnesotans

Bear Creek Christian Church has converted dorms to affordable housing.
Bear Creek Christian Church has converted old dorms to affordable housing apartments in Rochester, Minn., on July 13, 2018.
Jerry Olson for MPR News 2018

A housing advocacy group said Thursday it's getting increasingly difficult for many Minnesotans to find affordable housing.

The Minnesota Housing Partnership report said more than 110,000 of Minnesota's poorest households don't have affordable housing options. That's defined as housing that costs 30 percent of household income or less.

Overall, about 570,000 Minnesota households are spending more than that to put a roof over their heads. That number grew by nearly 26,000 households from 2015 to 2017.

"We hope this raises awareness, raises people's willingness to invest in affordable housing," said Anne Mavity, executive director of the partnership.

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From 2000 to 2017, the housing group found that inflation-adjusted rents rose in all but one Minnesota county. Meanwhile, renters' incomes generally fell.

Mavity said the housing crunch is especially affecting people of color. She said 40 percent of households of color struggle to pay for housing — compared to 23 percent of white households.

Mavity said the report offers a road map for addressing what she calls the affordability "squeeze."

"As it penetrates every sector, every level of our lives, there are more and more folks aware of the challenge and willing to do something about it," she said, noting there are initiatives in the works by the state, local governments and several organizations.

Video: What constitutes affordable housing?