State of the State’s Housing 2017

For a growing number of Minnesotans, the housing crisis isn’t over. In fact, it’s getting worse. Currently more than 1 in 4 Minnesota families likely have to sacrifice other needs like food and medicine to pay for rising housing costs.

As legislators make critical decisions about housing funding and programs across Minnesota, MHP has released its first State of the State’s Housing report — a comprehensive and compelling look at important metrics at the state, region and county levels. In addition to spotlighting key trends, like the gap between the costs of housing and the salaries of in-demand jobs, the report also ranks counties on benchmarks like renter cost burden and showcases issues like aging housing stock with dynamic maps.

The key takeaway: While significant progress has been made in areas like homelessness, housing is still a major challenge impacting virtually every community across Minnesota — with low- to moderate-income families and households of color bearing significant burdens.

Click here to download the full report


Where we live impacts every aspect of our lives. Where we call home affects the groceries we buy, where we send our kids to school and how we thrive in our community. At every stage of life, where we live is the foundation for our health, education, safety, and economic wellbeing.That’s why housing must be a priority at all levels of government and to all Minnesotans. To make our communities strong, we must ensure that all Minnesota families are able to find, afford and maintain safe, healthy housing.In 2017, that is not the case in any area of the state. In fact, from racial disparities to cost burden, many trends are going in the wrong direction.
Building on our County Profiles, released each year since 2009, MHP created the State of the State’s Housing to continue to benchmark progress at the state, region and county levels in critical areas, includingcost-burdened households paying at least 30% of their income for housing;a comparison of what common jobs pay relative to what renting and owning actually costs;changes in rent and home values;construction of multi- and single-family homes;trends in homelessness;and more!The report also includes county rankings and maps that reveal trends in areas like gross rent increase, affordable housing for extremely low-income households and housing cost burden for seniors.  

 Regional analyses and County Profiles

With 87 counties spanning urban and rural communities, Minnesota is diverse in its housing needs and challenges. Click below to download regional analyses and county profiles for your area of the state.

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Central Region

The Central region is located just north of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and includes 14 counties and the St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area. The region is home to 278,000 households of which 78 percent are homeowners and 22 percent are renters. By 2035, the region is expected to grow by 14 percent to nearly 905,000 people, making Central the fastest growing region in the state, outpacing even the Twin Cities region.

While rates of housing cost burden are relatively low among renter households, the Central region has some of the highest rates of owner cost burden, sharpest declines in median owner and renter income, and has seen housing cost increase significantly in recent years. As the Central region grows, it will be critical to expand affordable housing opportunities for renters, homeowners, and seniors to reduce housing cost burden and support a strong economy.

Download the Central Region Spotlight

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Northland Region

The Northland region is located in the northeast portion of the state bordering Canada, and is comprised of seven counties, spanning part of the Duluth Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and three Native American Reservations (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage). The region includes 138,670 total households, 74 percent of which are homeowners. Over the next 20 years, the region is expected to grow at a minimal rate — the lowest growth rate in any region in the state — and increase by only a few hundred in population.

The region also has the third highest percentage of extremely low-income (ELI) renter households, who earn less than 30 percent of the area median income. The need for ELI units is particularly severe in St. Louis County, which suffers from a shortage of more than 4,500 units that are available and affordable to ELI households. These trends indicate the critical need for increased production, preservation and access to affordable housing.

Download the Northland Region Spotlight

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Northwest Region

The Northwest region includes 12 counties and contains the metropolitan area of Grand Forks and the Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake reservations. The region includes 68,000 households, making it the least populated region in the state by more than 20,000 households. Over the next 20 years, the population is expected to grow by 7 percent to 188,500 total people.

The Northwest region has the second highest percentage of people of color in the state, and the homeownership gap is a significant concern. In 2015, White households had a homeownership rate that was 25 percent higher than households of color.

In addition, the growing gap between the renter median income and housing costs is creating significant cost burden for a growing segment of the renting population, with 42 percent of all renter households in the region paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. With many of the top in-demand jobs only paying a fraction of what is needed to afford prevailing rents, housing cost burden among renters may rise in coming years.

Download the Northwest Region Spotlight

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Southern Region

The Southern region is the second most populous region in the state with 285,600 households scattered across 20 counties. As the regional economic hub, the Rochester metropolitan area is home to nearly 30 percent of the region’s total household population. Over the next 20 years, the population is projected to increase 9 percent to 820,100 people, making it the third fastest growing region in Minnesota.

A notable housing trend in the Southern region is the lack of affordable housing in rural counties, which we define as any county outside of the Rochester, Mankato or La Crosse metropolitan areas (Blue Earth, Dodge, Fillmore, Houston, Nicollet, Olmsted, and Wabasha counties). From 2000 to 2015, these counties saw some of the sharpest declines in median renter income, yet housing costs continued to rise. The convergence of low renter incomes and growing housing costs forces nearly half of all renter households to pay more than they can afford for their home.

Compared to the rest of the state, the Southern region has the second highest percentage of owner-occupied homes built prior to 1960 and the highest percentage of renter homes built prior to 1960.

Download the Southern Region Spotlight

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Southwest Region

Although the Southwest region spans 18 counties, it is among the least populous regions in Minnesota with fewer than 114,000 households. Nearly 30 percent of the total household population is in Kandiyohi or McLeod counties, both of which are located just outside of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. By 2035, the population is projected to grow by 7 percent, rising to 310,990 total people — lower than the 10 percent projected growth for the state.

Compared to other regions, the Southwest has higher rates of total housing cost burden (28 percent) than the state average (26 percent). However, the region also has some of the lowest rates of senior housing cost burden with 48 percent of senior renters and 21 percent of senior homeowners paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Despite these positive trends, the region has aging housing stock and major income disparities between White households and households of color. With the top in-demand jobs only paying a small fraction of what is needed to afford housing costs, households living in these counties may struggle to afford their housing.

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Twin Cities Region

The Twin Cities region is the most populous and diverse region in the state with more than 2.9 million residents and 75 percent of the Minnesota’s non-white population. Over the next 20 years, suburban counties are expected to grow from 13 to 20 percent in total population, while urban counties — Hennepin and Ramsey — are only projected to grow by 10 and 9 percent. Much of this growth will be driven by people of color, who are projected to make up 40 percent of the total Twin Cities region population by 2040.

Although the region saw a modest 8 percent decrease in homelessness from 2012 to 2015, significant racial disparities persist in housing, a high percent of senior renters and homeowners pay more than they can afford for housing, and extremely low-income families face dramatic challenges in finding affordable housing. Of all the regions in the state, the Twin Cities metro area has the highest rate of cost burdened renters and, given that the fastest growing jobs pay only a fraction of what is needed to afford housing, this burden will affect a growing number of households in coming years if supply does not shift to meet the demand for more affordable housing options.

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West Central Region

The West Central region borders both North and South Dakota and is comprised of nine counties spanning part of the Fargo Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and White Earth reservation. The region includes more than 91,000 total households, 76 percent of which are homeowners and 24 percent of which are renters. By 2035, the region is expected to grow by only 6 percent to 246,200 people – well below the 10 percent projected growth rate for the entire state. Overall, population growth in the West Central region will only account for 2 percent of the total population growth in Minnesota.

One of the most pressing housing issues in the West Central region is severe renter cost burden. In three of the region’s nine counties, more than 27 percent of renter households experience severe housing cost burden, or are paying more than half of their total income on housing.

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Click here to download the full report