Study: Affordable housing lacking in Goodhue County
A recent study from the Minnesota Housing Partnership seems to back up something that many Goodhue County apartment hunters know only too well: Finding affordable rental properties in Goodhue County can be a challenge.
According to the study, released earlier this week, there are only 51 affordable and available rental units in Goodhue County for every 100 extremely low-income renters.
Randal Hemmerlin, executive director of Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment, said extremely low-income renters are defined as those who make 30 percent or less of the area's median income.
"We do hear that they have trouble finding affordable and available rental units," he said. "They do get frustrated. They have to look quite a bit. If we had a little bit more supply, it would be better."
Both Hemmerlin and the study pointed to an increase in the number of renters due to a large number of foreclosures and a poor economy.
"There's been a lot of pressure on affordable rental housing," Hemmerlin said. "The ability to get loans is much harder, the market for jobs has not been as good. People don't have the resources to buy property."
But Goodhue County is far from being the worst off in the state.
The study showed that Stearns County, in central Minnesota, has only 26 available and affordable units for every 100 extremely low-income renters. Statewide, there are 38 available and affordable units.
The study also looked at renter incomes. While rents in Goodhue County have risen by about 7 percent since 2000, renter incomes have fallen by 29 percent. In fact, as many as 52 percent of Goodhue County renters are spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing.
But Hemmerlin said that HUD's fair market rent for Goodhue County — set at $754 for an average two-bedroom apartment — aren't excessive.
"I still maintain that ... overall we have a pretty reasonable rental rates," he said, adding HUD's FMR has actually decreased slightly in the past couple of years.
As for the housing shortage, Hemmerlin said that is nothing new. In good economic times, people move to the city for work and are in need of places to live, he said; when the economy is bad, money is tighter and it's harder for people move.
"There's always a need for affordable housing," he said. "It's a basic need of life."
Every year, the MHP releases statistics on housing, homelessness, poverty and workers' wages for each of Minnesota's 87 counties. County profiles for every Minnesota county are available at mhponline.org/publications/reports-and-research/county-profiles.