Data shows minimum wage not enough to afford rent in Minnesota
New affordable housing data shows rent is out of reach if you make minimum wage in Minnesota, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Local housing advocates dug deeper into the disparities. Keeping up with climbing rent prices while earning minimum wage is like fighting a losing battle, according to Kendall Benson with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"Our biggest hurdle is the housing market to end homelessness. We need housing,” Benson said.
Benson works for a local organization fighting to end homelessness by providing housing.
“We’re seeing that there’s an increase in homeless individuals, as well as the length of time that they’re experiencing homelessness is also extending,” she said.
A lack of affordable housing is to blame.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, someone making $10.08 per hour — the minimum wage for most of Minnesota — would have to work 69 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment that costs $900 per month.
"Sadly, it wasn’t a surprise. We’ve known for a long time that our region faces an intersecting crisis of homelessness and affordability, and the connection to income is clear,” said Chris LaTondresse, chair of the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Local data shows a third of Hennepin County households have to spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
“Do we want to live in a society where growing homelessness encampments are a permanent feature of our society, or are we going to make the investments to prevent homelessness in the first place?” LaTondresse said.
He said a wage increase and a rent decrease is a start.
Housing advocates agree lawmakers on the state and local levels have to work together to turn the tide.
"If we don’t make the public investment necessary to get people there, it has consequences not only in terms of the impact on these families but on all of us,” LaTondresse said. “It winds up being way more expensive in the long run for us to solve these problems.”
In May of this year, Hennepin county passed a historic $17 million grant to support about 1,550 affordable housing units and related programs. It’s a part of a long-term initiative to reduce the burden of housing costs.