-- Update at bottom --
Using data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a map put together by the Washington Post's Wonkblog breaks down how much a person needs to earn to afford a respectable one-bedroom apartment, utilities included, in every county in America. (Check out an interactive version of the map here.)
For counties in the Twin Cities metro core, it turns out a person needs to make $14.54 per hour -- well above the state's new minimum wage -- to rent a one-bedroom and not devote more than 30 percent of their income to rent, the study concludes.
Assuming a person works full-time, that translates to an annual income of $30,243.
According to the study, the annal income at which at a one-bedroom is affordable in Minnesota doesn't dip below $30,000 unless you're living in exurban/outstate counties like Rice, Goodhue, or McLeod.
We contacted HOME Line, a nonprofit Minnesota statewide tenant advocacy organization, and Mayor Betsy Hodges's spokesperson for comment, but neither got back to us immediately. (See update at bottom.)
It could be worse -- the most expensive county in the country is Marin County, California, where a person has to earn $29.83 hourly (or about $62,000 annually) to afford a one-bedroom. And Twin Cities rents aren't even the most unaffordable in the five-state area. In the housing-starved oil-boom lands of northwestern North Dakota, the one-bedroom "housing wage" is $17.35 per hour.
:::: UPDATE ::::
Mike Vraa, managing attorney at HOME Line, got back to us to share his thoughts on the Twin Cities rental market, which he says has gotten precipitously worse for renters in recent years.
"What we've seen is that in the last 20 or 22 months rents have escalated dramatically," Vraa says. "The vacancy rate had remained fairly static between 2 and 4 percent the last 11 years or so, but frankly, the average rents were just as static, stuck at around $900."
"Now in the last 22 or 22 months it's gone up closer to $975," Vraa continues. "We've heard from a lot of people who have been in their place for eight years and paid $650, and suddenly they get a notice that it's going up to $850 or something. As I see it landlords right now are trying to figure out what the ceiling is for their market."
When Vraa hears from renters in that situation, he recommends they try to negotiate some sort of compromise with their landlord.
"People don't think that has any chance to work, but it actually does," Vraa says. "Landlords like the certainty of long-term renters, so you might be able to negotiate a two-year lease."
Asked whether he thinks the continued construction of high-end rental and condo buildings is a problem, Vraa points out that over the long haul, it could end up benefitting low- and middle-income renters.
"I'll be honest -- I'm not against giant expensive apartment buildings going up, because somebody staying in the nicest apartment right now might move [to a new, even nicer building], so their old unit becomes available," Vraa says. "So some of the expensive stuff ultimately becomes more affordable, but that's a long-term possibility."
But before you decide to move out of the city altogether and into a more affordable unit in the suburbs, Vraa recommends you simply look across the street.
"Frankly, one building over can make a giant difference," he says.
h/t -- Dallas Observer