In a continuing effort to keep the congregation informed on affordable housing issues, your Beacon Housing Committee would like to share a series of articles about the eviction crisis in Minnesota. The following excerpt is from an article in the Beacon newsletter.
Last month we looked at evictions spiking. This month we will look at why most people get evicted.
Roughly 90% of eviction cases in Hennepin County are filed for nonpayment of rent. Rising costs due to inflation and other expenses leave low-income families no financial wiggle room. "When life happens, the tire blows or there's a doctor's bill, you get behind," said Margaret Kaplan, president of the Housing Justice Center. "We do not have a system that is designed for low-income people to be safely and sustainably housed." A lack of affordable housing forces low-income tenants to take whatever they can find, even if it is more expensive than their budget allows.
A recent Minnesota Housing Partnership survey found one in four Minnesota renters and one in 10 homeowners pay more than they can afford for housing. All of Minnesota's 87 counties have shortages of highly affordable dwellings for low-income residents. High housing costs disproportionately impact households of color, who also have significantly lower rates of homeownership. Princeton's Eviction Lab recently published findings that, nationwide, Black children and families were most likely to face an eviction.
The lack of highly affordable housing is particularly stark in Minnesota's most populous counties; Hennepin and Ramsey counties collectively have a deficit of more than 50,000 affordable units.
More than a year after the end of Minnesota's pandemic-era eviction moratorium, Twin Cities eviction cases are still surging at one of the fastest rates of any U.S. metro area. Through the first nine months of 2023, Hennepin County eviction filings jumped 44% over the previous year, while Ramsey County evictions were up 25% in the same period. Nationally, the Twin Cities is second only to Las Vegas for the increase in eviction cases compared with the pandemic era, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which tracks filings in 34 cities across the country.
The spike is driven by multiple factors: individual financial struggles made worse by inflation, a persistent lack of affordable housing and rising costs for developers looking to build affordable units. To combat the trend, advocates and local leaders are rushing to intervene before tenants end up in court to help them find settlements to stay in their homes. And they now have some additional help: a $1 billion funding boost from the state Legislature, plus nearly $200 million in annual revenue from a new 0.25% metro sales tax that took effect October 1st.
Learn what Beacon Interfaith Housing is doing about the housing crisis at beaconinterfaith.org.