By Danielle Dullinger
Murphy News Service
University of Minnesota
School of Journalism & Mass Communication
The Twin Cities has the most expensive housing rent in Minnesota and a significant shortage of affordable housing, according to a recent report.
The “Out of Reach 2013” report, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), said the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis is $920. Fair Market Rent (FMR) is a gross rent estimate set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is used to help HUD determine subsidies for low-income renters.
To afford the price of rent and utilities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area without paying more than 30 percent of a renter’s income on housing, the household would have to earn $36,800 annually or nearly $4,000 a month, according to the report. Under federal standards, housing should cost no more than 30 percent of a person’s income to be “affordable.”
A minimum wage worker in Minnesota would need to work well over 80 hours per week in order to afford the average two-bedroom apartment, according to the report’s statistics.
Bob Boyd, director of policy and special initiatives for the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), said the report highlights the region’s affordable housing problem.
“We are not able to address the need for affordable housing in our community,” Boyd said.
MPHA currently houses more than 21,000 individuals through low rent and housing programs, he said. However, many remain on waiting lists.
“We get hundreds of contacts monthly from individuals and families desperate for housing assistance and due to our limited resources cannot extend assistance,” he said.
In Minnesota, for every 100 extremely low-income individuals, only 36 rental units are available to them, said Amy Clark, communications director for the NLIHC. An individual who is considered “extremely low income” earns no more than 30 percent of the median income.
There is a demand for housing, but “the market has failed to produce housing for the extremely low-income in Minnesota,” she said.
Minnesota ranks 24th in the nation for most expensive housing rates, which includes Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, with its FMR of $836. A renter would need to earn just over $16 an hour to afford the FMR.
“Overall what we’re seeing is the trend over a number of decades, but the cost of living is increasing while wages are remaining the same,” Clark said.
Solving the market failure requires more affordable housing and higher wages for the poor, Boyd said. The development of rental housing is booming in the Twin Cities, but not enough of that housing is suited for affordable living, he said.
The Twin Cities should “let need drive how we respond to the housing crisis and not build to the wants of those with the highest incomes,” Boyd said.
Clark wants individuals to take action with the government.
“If someone wants to do something, or someone cares, they need to talk to members of Congress about the issue and explain to them the most vital thing for people is to have the foundation that comes with a safe, decent, affordable home,” Clark said. “This is the time to address the problem.”
To view the “Out of Reach 2013” report, go to nlihc.org.
Danielle Dullinger is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.
By The Numbers
24: Minnesota rank in most expensive housing rent nationwide
$836: Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment in Minnesota
$16.08: Hourly wage necessary to afford the FMR in Minnesota
$920: FMR for a two-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area
$17.69: Hourly wage necessary to afford the FMR in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area