One in ten can’t afford housing in county

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 24, 2002

A study shows that a household needs to earn $17,840 to afford the fair market rent for a $446 two-bedroom apartment in Freeborn County. And to buy a $71,400 home, the county’s median value, a household needs a $23,297 annual income.

The HousingMinnesota project, conducted by a coalition of labor, faith-based, business, education and housing advocate groups, crystallized the pressing need in Freeborn County and the state for affordable housing.

&uot;The trend is clear throughout the state: Low and, increasingly, moderate-income households cannot afford housing,&uot; said Chip Halbach, Executive Director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

Email newsletter signup

In the county, the findings mean about 10 percent of households cannot afford their rent, and 18 percent cannot purchase a median-valued home.

The threshold was set with an assumption that a household can spend up to 30 percent of its income on housing.

The findings further illustrate that a minimum-wage worker would have to work 67 hours per week just to rent a decent place to live.

Statewide, the numbers look worse: The income threshold for renting is $30,461, and $39,937 for owning a median-valued home.

Currently, more than 300 people are in homeless shelters in southeast Minnesota, and hundreds are on the waiting list. And 44.6 percent of surveyed homeless adults in the region are employed. Surprisingly, 72.2 percent of them have a full-time job.

&uot;It’s important to quantify the housing and homelessness issues throughout Minnesota so that we can make clear progress to solve them,&uot; said Michael Dahl, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. &uot;It is unacceptable that over 20,000 people on a given night in Minnesota are homeless or are at imminent risk of losing their housing.&uot;

A report summarizing the study calls for commitments by the state and local authorities and communities as a whole to the housing issue, stating that affordable housing creates opportunity for people to hold steady jobs, pursue education, weather difficult times, and contribute to their community.

It says that every $10 million invested in housing industry will bring 2,676 new jobs and $69 million in new wages to the state economy.