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Report shows rental housing shortages in Minnesota counties

Families in every Minnesota county face difficult challenges when it comes to meeting their most basic needs, especially housing, according to a new set of county-by-county reports released by the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

Times are particularly difficult for families who rent. According to data in the 2012 County Profiles, 94% of the state's counties have a deficit in the supply of rental housing that is affordable and available to its lowest-income residents. Overall in Minnesota, there are only 40 units of rental housing available for every 100 extremely low-income renters. [See Table 1.]

In every county in Minnesota, some families face paying more than half of their income for their housing, the profiles find. Those impacted most severely are also the lowest-income families. When housing eats up so much income, families cannot afford proper medical care, healthy food, and quality education.

Children are especially vulnerable to the impact of unstable, unaffordable housing. In the worst cases, normal growth and development are stunted, and school performance suffers. Poverty rates for Minnesota children exceed 10% in all but 8 counties, and half of all homeless Minnesotans are under the age of 21.

Long-term unemployment is at the highest level in decades, yet even employed renters face severe challenges. Over the course of a year, the average food preparation or retail sales worker in Minnesota will fall more than $10,000 short of being able to afford decent, safe housing along with other basic needs.

Home ownership is now far more affordable than in many years, but fallen home prices have left about 18% of Minnesota mortgage-holders owing more on their home than it is worth. Seventy-one counties have median home sales prices beneath 2006 levels, after adjusting for inflation [see Table 2]. Over 146,000 owner households statewide pay more than half of their income in housing costs.

"Economic improvements and a stabilizing market for home owners is good news. However, counties across the state lack housing options for lower income workers, seniors, and young adults starting out," says Chip Halbach, Executive Director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership. "We can do better."

Visit MHP's County Profiles for housing information and other data for each of Minnesota's 87 counties--for owners and renters, changes in home prices, foreclosures, homelessness, and unemployment.* The Profiles, additional analysis, maps, and data sources are available at:

*Note: Use caution in comparing some data across counties. See for more information about county comparisons for 2012.

Minnesota Counties with Least Available and Affordable Rental Housing

Rank County Units available and affordable

per 100 extremely low-income

seekers of rental housing Region

1 Kanabec 27 E Central

2 Benton 30 Central

3 Stearns 31 Central

4 Anoka 32 Metro

4 Dakota 32 Metro

6 Ramsey 33 Metro

7 Hennepin 35 Metro

7 Washington 35 Metro

9 Clay 36 W Central

9 Sherburne 36 Central

9 Winona 36 SE

12 Blue Earth 37 S Central

13 St. Louis 38 NE

13 Yellow Medicine 38 SW

15 Olmsted 39 SE

State of Minnesota 40

Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition analysis of CHAS data, 2005-9.

Table 2: Minnesota Counties with Steepest Drop in Median Home Sale Prices,

2006-2011 (inflation adjusted)

Rank County 2006 2011 % Change Region

1 Mille Lacs County $182,529 $116,950 -36% E Central

2 Watonwan County $94,840 $60,813 -36% S Central

3 Sibley County $141,703 $91,000 -36% S Central

4 Rice County $223,154 $143,500 -36% SE

5 Norman County $64,715 $42,000 -35% NW

6 Isanti County $206,417 $140,000 -32% E Central

7 Kanabec County $167,365 $114,000 -32% E Central

8 Wright County $240,895 $165,000 -32% Central

9 Anoka County $248,077 $175,000 -29% Metro

10 Sherburne County $238,217 $170,000 -29% Central

State of Minnesota $223,042 $166,418 -25%

Source: MN Department of Revenue Sales Ratio Study. Excludes foreclosures and short sales.