In this housing market, we must remember renters.
It seems every conversation I have lately involves the price of housing or the challenges people are facing in the current market. Admittedly, most of the people I speak with are referencing the homeownership market. In many of those conversations, there’s a sense of mild disbelief as folks share stories about frenzied attempts to get an offer accepted, pricing or conditions of purchase that seemed outlandish just a few months ago, and exasperation that someone they care about is unable to access what they need—or want—for housing. Looking at recent trends in the local housing market helps shed light on some of their experiences.
The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors recently reported a decrease in total single-family home inventory of 45.8 percent between March and April 2021. During that same period, prices for those single-family homes increased 9.8 percent. These statistics are a bit mind-boggling, yet they help me understand the disbelief folks are feeling. The huge drop in supply leaves households with few options that are both affordable and available—especially because we know that the homebuyers’ wages are not increasing at the same rate as housing costs.
Of course, the housing market isn’t the only thing to blame when it comes to issues of access to homeownership: systemic racial barriers have long excluded people of color from homeownership, and the opportunity to build wealth and capital over time through housing.
We also know that the struggle to find affordable options that some people are currently facing in the single-family home market is not foreign to our neighbors in the rental market. In Minnesota, 43 percent of renters—compared to 18 percent of homeowners—are paying more for their housing than is affordable, which leaves them at risk of having to make sacrifices in basic needs like food and medicine.
For 50 years, CommonBond has created access to affordable, decent rental homes. Our commitment to this work is as strong as it has ever been, and we’re enjoying one of the most productive periods of housing creation and preservation in our history. Accelerating the decrease of cost-burdened households in our communities—and ensuring affordable homes are preserved long into the future—takes a deep and broad commitment from a wide range of partners across public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
While home-buying continues to accelerate and dominate the broad conversation around housing, we must remember renters—especially those with low-incomes—have long been feeling these impacts. The next time you find yourself in a conversation about the challenges our housing markets are presenting, I encourage you to use it as an opportunity to inspire action. You can make an impact by:
- Advocating for the creation of new subsidy sources that support the development of affordable housing.
- Support the use of regulatory and tax incentives to promote private production of housing.
- Encourage and welcome the development of affordable housing in all communities so that all individuals and families have the opportunity to live, work, and go to school close to the place they call home.
- Give to CommonBond Communities and other organizations who are best positioned to respond to this critical issue.