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For many, rental housing is the most sensible housing option, and for others it is the only option. In fact, about 27% of households in Minnesota are renters. Yet there are serious challenges in rental affordability and availability in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. Meanwhile, production of new rental housing has not kept pace with growing demand.

Summary Findings

  • Since 2000, inflation-adjusted rents have risen in all but five counties. In nine counties, rents have risen by 30% or more. Statewide, the 7% average increase in rents is especially hard on renters, given that the median renter income has fallen 17% in this timeframe.
  • 86 of 87 counties have an insufficient supply of rental housing for extremely low income (ELI) renters. In a quarter of the state’s counties, for every 100 ELI renters, there are only 40 units or fewer affordable and available to them.*
  • Wages for “top jobs-in-demand” identified by Minnesota DEED are often insufficient to cover the cost of housing. Minimum wage workers also fall short. Here’s a summary of the extent to which median-paid workers in “top-jobs-in-demand” can afford local fair market rents (FMRs) for a modest 2-bedroom apartment:
    • A registered nurse can afford the 2-bedroom FMR in about 80% of Minnesota’s counties, but a nursing assistant can do so in only two counties.
    • Customer service representatives can afford the FMR in 60% of counties.
    • Food prep and serving workers, retail sales people, and minimum wage workers cannot afford the 2-bedroom FMR in any county.
  • More seniors face housing needs. Between 2014 and 2030, the number of Minnesotans aged 65+ is expected to increase by 49%.
    • Currently, 61% of senior renters and 26% of senior owners are cost‐burdened, paying 30% or more of their income for their housing.
    • In 64 of 87 counties, half or more of senior renters are cost burdened.
    • Seniors are among the fastest growing segments of the state’s homeless population.
  • Unstable housing can hinder children’s development and education. About half of those experiencing homelessness in Minnesota are age 21 or younger. In half of Minnesota counties, the poverty rate is 15% or higher for children under 18.
  • Construction of multifamily housing has been very limited in most areas of the state, especially in rural areas.
    • Between 2009 and 2014, about a quarter of Minnesota’s counties had no new units permitted in multifamily buildings, and another quarter had fewer than 20 such units permitted.
    • The counties with the highest number of multifamily units permitted were especially concentrated in the Twin Cities and in larger Greater Minnesota metros.

*Note: On October 28, 2015 HUD released a correction to its 2008-12 CHAS data, which impacts the calculations for units affordable and available to ELI households. MHP has revised the 2015 County Profiles to reflect this change as of 11/9/2015.