Minnesota is fortunate to have several well-respected organizations producing timely and useful reports on our state's top housing and community issues. This resource round-up features recent work from three local organizations: Family Housing Fund, Minnesota Homeownership Center, and the Wilder Foundation, looking at children, rental, homeownership, and homelessness.
The Family Housing Fund recently released three reports about affordable housing or homelessness in the Twin Cities.
- The first report found affordable housing to be out of reach for many Twin Cities workers:
- To affordably rent a two-bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities, a family needs to earn $43,300 per year, yet half of the jobs in the Twin Cities metro area pay less than $40,560 annually.
- To afford a modest single family home, a family needs to earn $52,000 per year.
When working families cannot afford housing, they face difficult decisions between paying for housing, food, and medical care and run the risk of being priced out the communities in which they work, the report adds.
- The second report describes the positive connections between property values and affordable housing. Focusing on eight different Twin Cities suburban communities, the study found little to no evidence suggesting that affordable rental housing hurts property values or home sales. In fact, the study areas maintained market performance or experienced increased home sale prices after the construction of affordable rental housing. This study supports previous research on the positive impact of affordable rental housing on property values, family education, health, and wealth.
- And the third report details the effects of homelessness for children, finding that homeless children are more likely than children with homes to have health problems like respiratory infections and asthma, to have developmental or behavioral problems, and to experience hunger. Nationally, 85% of homeless high school students and 75% of homeless elementary school students perform below grade level in reading and math, the report added. Sharp recent increases in homeless children in Minnesota have strained available resources, with many families on waiting lists for housing and services.
The Minnesota Homeownership Center annual "State of Homeownership" report describes the widening racial inequalities in homeownership despite market and foreclosure recovery. While 77% of White families own their home, only 39% of households of color own their home. This is the largest homeownership gap in the nation and the largest in Minnesota since 1990. The gap is worse still for specific racial and ethnic communities in Minnesota. For example, only 26% of African Americans own their homes. Foreclosure recovery has also been slower in Minnesota communities of color, even homes are a more important source of wealth for households of color than for white households, according to the report. The report calls for strategies to "engage multiple sectors and diverse perspectives" to help restore homeownership's benefits for all Minnesota communities, regardless of race or location.
The Wilder Foundation recently released "Homeless Children and their Families," a detailed looks at kids and families based on the 2012 homeless study, which recorded the highest number of homeless Minnesotans in the study's 21 year history. Among the homeless were 1,747 families, made up of 5,591 people. Other important findings include:
- 51% of homeless children were 5 years old or younger. Homelessness during this critical time in development can have lasting consequences for children's health and education.
- African Americans and American Indians are disproportionally likely to be homeless. African Americans account for half of all homeless parents, though they make up only 5% of Minnesota's parents. American Indians make up 8% of homeless parents but only 1% of the state population of parents.
Access to shelters and affordable housing is important for helping individuals and families thrive in Minnesota, the report added.