Foreclosure crisis forcing residents to turn to renting

By Patrick Slack, Staff Writer

The percentage of people turning to renting their homes has sharply increased throughout Minnesota in recent years, including in Morrison County.

A study conducted by Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) shows that 80 percent of Morrison County households owned their homes while the other 20 percent were renters in 2010.

That is up 2.6 percent from the 17.4 percent rate of renting in the county from 2005-2007.

Statewide, the home ownership rate is at only 73 percent.

“The foreclosure crisis and a struggling economy have made renting the best, or only, housing option for thousands of families and individuals,” said Chip Halbach, executive director of MHP. “Yet rents are increasingly unaffordable for many workers, families and seniors.”

According to MHP, housing is considered affordable if it consumes less than 30 percent of a household’s gross income.

Out of Morrison County families with a household income of less than $20,000, 81 percent of renters and 77 percent of homeowners pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Across all income levels, 49 percent of renters and 30 percent of homeowners’ housing is considered unaffordable.

About 28 percent of renters and 10 percent of homeowners pay more than half of their income on housing.

While renters statistically pay a higher percentage of their income on housing, that is because most renters do so by necessity, not by choice, due to lower incomes.

The median income for Morrison County homeowners in 2010 was $53,307, while the median income for renters was $23,307.

Unemployment in Morrison County was at 7.6 percent in May, up from 4.9 percent in 2007, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

A 2009 study by the JOBS NOW Coalition said that 45 percent of all available jobs in Morrison County and counties nearby pay less than the wage required to afford basic needs.

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