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Housing folks know that despite common stereotypes, renters are integral to our social and economic fabric, and that decent, affordable rental options make for vibrant communities. Recent Met Council projections suggest that the need for rental will increase quite a lot by 2040 due to more older adults, more immigrants, and more single-parent families in the Twin Cities area. MHP's been piecing together data in new ways to tell the story of rental in Minnesota to show that affordable rental housing is in short supply and requires investment to meet our needs going forward. Take an MHP graphical data tour of three key points, and let us know what you think in the comments.





Most of our data is for the Twin Cities metro. While choices for Greater MN renters are sometimes even more constrained than in the metro, we focus on the metro due to data availability, and that often metro trends set the trajectory for the state.


Point #1: Rental housing is not affordable, especially to the lowest income folks.

The chart below looks at those who are spending at least half their income on housing and divides them up by their incomes. Over three-quarters have incomes that are 30% or less of the area median, or are "extremely low income" or ELI. State-level statistics are very similar.income_pie_severecb_rentersincome_pie_severecb_renters

Our friends at the National Low Income Housing Coalition remind us that in Minnesota, affordable housing is in extremely short supply for those at the lowest end of the income spectrum. Only 40 units are available and affordable for every 100 extremely low income households. Supply improves somewhat as you go up the income ladder.

  Units Affordable & Available per 100 households  
          at or below threshold, Minnesota, 2010

 ELI (30% or less of MMFI)


 VLI (31-50% of MMFI)


 LI (51-80% of MMFI)


 Source: NLIHC Tabulations of 2010 ACS PUMS data


Point #2: The supply of low-cost apartments on the private market is shrinking

From 2006 to 2011, the number of units in the Twin Cities renting at $650 or less fell by 53%. marquette_under650marquette_under650

The American Community Survey provides more evidence of the same kind of trend. 52,000 rental units were added from 2005 to 2010, but in net the added units fell at the upper end of the rent spectrum. Some loss in number of cheaper units and growth in more expensive units is to be expected due to inflation, but this does not account for the dramatic swing in this chart.

rental_unit_change_bycost_2005-10rental_unit_change_bycost_2005-10Point #3: Newly created subsidized rental housing is not targeted to the lowest income people, even though that's where the greatest need is.

Just how low do rents need to be to serve extremely low-income folks? Finding decent rental housing in the Twin Cities for a whole family at $1,250 is a challenge, but is nearly impossible at $630/month.


Yet the affordable housing we are producing, as valuable as it is, often fails to meet the affordability needs of extremely low income families.


We know that funding tools (too few, too little, and not targeted to low enough incomes) are a big part of why we are not meeting the state's needs. We have our work cut out for us! MHP encourages you to use this data when you talk to colleagues, community members, and policy makers.

Contact Leigh Rosenberg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 651-925-5543 for more information.