Minnesota homelessness, unaffordable housing rising together


Homelessness is the highest ever in Minnesota. The triennial Wilder report on Homelessness in Minnesota recently released data showing more than 10,000 homeless persons statewide. This number is three times higher than when the Wilder Foundation first began reporting homelessness numbers in 1991.




Minnesota housing costs also have increased steadily for more than a decade. The 2013 Out of Reach report, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that for the third consecutive year Minnesota is ranked the worst for housing affordability out of 12 Midwestern states. The share of renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent has increased nearly every year since the 2001 reports. So too has the share of all households spending more than half their income on housing.



According to the federal government definition “housing should cost no more than 30% of monthly income in order to be considered affordable housing.” Furthermore, a housing cost of more than 50 percent of monthly income is considered a “severe housing cost burden”.

Another key finding from the Minnesota Housing Partnership’s Out of Reach Report is the wages and hours  needed to afford housing. According to the report, a renter must work an average of 40 hours a week and receive a wage of $16.08 in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. For low income renters the situation is much starker. At minimum wage a person must work 89 hours per week. Housing affordability is worst in the Twin Cities, where a renter must earn a wage of $17.69 working full-time year round to achieve affordable housing.

The difficulty in obtaining affordable housing correlates with an increase in length of homelessness. The percent of adults and youth who are homeless one or more years has risen over the last decade.




In order to provide affordable housing to the lowest income persons in Minnesota, the report shows a clear need to expand the supply of permanent affordable housing.

This is one of a number of articles produced by students at Macalester as part of a New Media class.

CORRECTION 5/6/2013: Minnesota Housing Partnership (not Project) published the “Out of Reach” report.