St. Paul has no affordable units under construction mid-2019 despite rent dip
The St. Paul housing market had a surprising event occurring in October of this year. Rents, which had been climbing faster than inflation, finally dipped. Despite this improvement, in the third quarter of 2019, none of the 643 housing units being constructing in St. Paul were considered affordable.
A Minneapolis-based affordable housing data and listing service – HousingLink – released a new report which found that no new affordable or mixed-income housing was being constructed in St. Paul last summer, even though 277 affordable units were proposed. This is not counting the 5,000 market-rate or mixed-income units that were in concept stages but never came to fruition.
The HousingLink report found that 47% of St. Paul renters live in housing that is not affordable to them, where affordability is defined as paying no more than 30% of pre-tax household income on gross housing costs (which includes rent and utilities). However, some aspects of housing development have been promising, such as the availability of housing for special populations. In October 2019, the housing openings with one or more accessible features increased from 24 last year to 28 this year, and veteran-friendly openings increased from 33 last year to 56 this year.
A noteworthy finding is that the HousingLink report does not list two affordable family housing and affordable senior housing developments under construction on Emerald Street, which are the Millberry Apartments and the Legends at Berry Senior Housing. These two developments together span some 362 units. It is unclear why these projects were not listed in the housing data.
The federal department of Housing and Urban Development calculates area median income based on the 16 counties of the official Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is an area that spans 4 million people and reaches into Wisconsin. As a result, the calculations of area median income are fairly elevated – which are $70,0000 for an individual and $116,000 for a family of four. Median household income in St. Paul is about half of this – or around $54,000 as of 2018. This is problematic as the eligibility for affordable housing is typically set around the HUD median and not the city median.
For more information on the lack of affordable housing for residents of St. Paul, visit: https://www.twincities.com/2019/08/01/no-st-paul-apartments-available-for-families-earning-30000-or-less-report-finds/