MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Although there is a reported boom in Twin Cities apartment construction, some officials say the metro is in crisis mode when it comes to affordable housing and has been for some time.
“I think it is abysmal and in crisis,” says Bob Boyd, director of policy and special initiatives for the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
Boyd and his staff try to assist low income residents in finding section 8 or federally subsidized housing, but due to federal budget cuts, they haven’t placed a family since 2008.
“We had 15,000 requests for applications, processed 13,000 (of them) and right now we still have over 10,000 on our section 8 waiting list, and it hasn’t been opened for five years,” Boyd said.
Seen the classifieds lately? It is not just low income apartments that are scarce.
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“Right now in Minneapolis the vacancy rate is somewhere around two percent, and for affordable housing it’s significantly lower, at less than one percent,” said Boyd.
Still, Boyd and his staff answer the phones and gingerly try and point their clients in the right direction.
“Monthly we probably get 75 to 100 calls, but I have nothing to offer. I just got three calls the other day, one from a young woman whose boyfriend kicked her and her new born child out of the apartment. She’s desperate for housing and out on the street with a 9-month-old and we have nothing that we can offer them except referrals to homeless shelters,” said Boyd.
Boyd said ventures, like the one Minnesota is about to undertake with building more new low-income units, will help to take the pressure off. However what’s really needed is a new Federal partnership with local developers and landlords to devote more housing to low income residents.
As for the rest of us, as long as those rates remain low, it’s a landlord’s market and will be until more units are constructed to take the pressure off of the tight rental market. That could be years down the road.