Jan 29, 2024 - News

Minnesotans are struggling to afford rent as affordable options disappear

Illustration of a house key attached to a ball and chain.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In the Twin Cities, one out of every four renters spends at least half of their income on rent and utilities, a new report shows.

Driving the news: Nationally, the number of renters who qualify as "severely cost-burdened" is at an all-time high, according to the report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Why it matters: The squeeze is forcing a growing number of renters — especially those with lower incomes — to make "dreadful choices," including cutting back on food or living in "overcrowded or structurally inadequate" conditions.

  • After housing expenses, renters making less than $30,000 per year now have only $310 per month left over — a 47% drop in their "residual income" since 2001.

The big picture: The most affordable rental options are disappearing. In the last decade, researchers found that the U.S. lost a total of 6 million housing units that rented for less than $1,000 per month.

  • A record number of housing units nationwide are under construction, though the report's authors fear many of these units are aimed at the higher end of the market.

Zoom in: In the Twin Cities metro, half of all renter households are "moderately cost-burdened," meaning they spend at least 30% of their income on housing.

  • In Minnesota, Black and Hispanic renters are more likely to be cost-burdened than white renters.
  • Duluth renters are even more squeezed. Nearly one-third of renters in its metro area — which includes Superior, Wis., — are considered "severely cost-burdened."

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