Affordable housing is key to economic vitality

 
Date: August, 2014

For most people, home is the place we live and where we feel safe. Home is where we raise our family, relax, and enjoy our neighborhood. But if our housing puts too big a dent in our wallets, home can be a source of anxiety.

Council Chair Susan HaighToday, far too many of the region’s residents are spending more on their housing than they can really afford, especially households earning less than the 13-county area median income – $83,900 for a family of four in 2012. The most recent data tell us that since 2000:

  • The number of households in the seven-county metro area that pay more than 30% of their income for housing grew 75%.

  • The number of households experiencing severe housing cost burden (paying more than 50% of their income for housing) doubled.

  • 119,000 households that earn 50% or less of the area median income (AMI) are paying more than 50% of their income on housing.  That’s a lot of households – more than all of the households in Bloomington, Chaska, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Oakdale, and Shakopee combined.  

Households with a housing cost burden often sacrifice other essential needs – like medical care, adequate food, and educational opportunities. Without stable, affordable housing, children are less likely to flourish and learn. This region’s future economic success depends on the success of our children today.

That’s why an adequate supply of affordable housing is so important. And it’s why the Metropolitan Council is producing its first housing policy plan in three decades. Our goal is to support communities to plan for the affordable housing that is so important to local and regional economic vitality.

In the draft plan, the Council emphasizes its partnerships with communities. The plan describes multiple strategies for creating housing options that give people in all stages and of all economic means viable choices for safe, stable, and affordable homes.  

For a year, the Council met monthly with a 26-member advisory group to collect ideas, input, and perspectives from a wide variety of stakeholders to develop the draft plan. This group included housing developers, builders, and funders, nonprofit advocacy groups, and city representatives.  The draft Housing Policy Plan (106 pages, pdf) is online for review, and the public may comment on the plan through 5 p.m. Friday, September 26.

We welcome your input.

Susan Haigh