It's heartening to see the daily good work going on in Minnesota to help people get the housing and services they need- from the work of advocates, service providers, and everyday citizens. Yesterday's Project Homeless Connect in Minneapolis linked over 1,000 volunteers with homeless individuals- a real testament to the spirit of caring in our state. However, MHP's latest 2 x 4 Report reveals that we still have a long road ahead, with long-term unemployment leading more workers to the brink.
It is regrettable that through September of this school year, the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth public schools have all seen increases in homelessness. Combined, the three districts have identified 27% more kids as homeless than in 2008, according to the latest report. Since just last year, 8% more kids were found to be homeless.
Homeless Children and Youth
What's behind this? Although unemployment has been holding relatively steady, part of the problem may be due to the fact that more people who are experiencing unemployment are facing longer priods of time without income. Last month, a Pew national report found that by the third quarter of 2011, almost a third of America's unemployed workers had been out of work for a year or more.
Historical Long-Term Unemployment (US)
Percent of Total Unemployed Who Were Out of work for 52 Weeks or More
At the same time, the foreclosure crisis has led to higher rental demand. Back at home in Minnesota, vacancy rates in the Twin Cities rental market have fallen to 2.3% and rental costs have been rising. Average rents reached $925 in the third quarter- well beyond the reach of people working even full time at low-wage jobs. With this low vacancy rate, additional rent increases are likely.
For more analysis, data and graphics, see the full quarterly 2 x 4 Report, including data on foreclosure, mortgage delinquencies, and people employed in residential construction.
P.S. There is one bright spot in this otherwise sobering report: the inventory of homes for sale in the Twin Cities fell slightly for the third quarter, and could signal movement towards stabilizing home values. Stay tuned for future 2 x 4's, and feel free to let us know what you're seeing in housing in your neck of the woods in the comments.