During the Covid-19 pandemic, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF) is surveying owners and managers of approximately 30,000 rental housing units in rural and urban parts of the state monthly to determine tenant inability pay rent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Data collected is focused primarily on providers of affordable housing, but data for all rental units in respondent portfolios was requested, including market rate units.
Findings identify changes in the inability of tenants to pay rent which will eventually lead to more evictions and homelessness, as well as growing threats to the stability of affordable housing organizations.
There have been four surveys completed to date. You can download a PDF of each survey here:
- The percentage of rent paid in August as of month-end was 93.3% — down by 2.4% since March.
- The modest decline in rent paid percentages translates to a more alarming number in terms of households at risk. As of August month-end, an estimated 32,800 households were unable to pay their rent with an increasing number of households (over 80,000) delaying payment of rent until after mid-month.
- A solid majority of portfolios (96%) reported a decline in net income for August due to modest drops in rent paid combined with an increase in operating expenses.
- The cumulative increase in unpaid rent due to the pandemic statewide is estimated at over $50 million through the end of August.
- The sample of 29,071 units represents roughly 5% of the total market of 610,000 units, of which 120,000 (20%) are affordable units. The types of units for which data were collected were split between rent assisted (59%) and non-assisted units (41%).
The survey will be updated monthly and made available on the GMHF website.
MULTIPLE INTERVENTIONS ARE NEEDED
While Minnesota renters who fall behind in rent will not be immediately evicted thanks to Governor Walz’ Executive Order (EO) banning evictions, renters are still obligated to catch up with rent obligations. Forbearance of monthly rent payments will mean subsequent rent increases when the eviction moratorium is lifted.
Inability to pay rent puts large numbers of Minnesotans at risk of eviction, and potentially, homelessness. The increased need for government housing assistance underscores the need for major new public investments to begin to re-stabilize the housing system and the economy.
“The issue of rent loss has wide impacts. Today’s tenants who cannot pay rent will be tomorrow’s homeless families and individuals, including children. More tenants desperately need government rental assistance, or they will soon be evicted and homeless. Also, owners of affordable housing cannot maintain safe properties without adequate rental income. Clearly, major new state and federal resources are needed to deliver the needed scale of rent assistance.” said Warren Hanson, President and CEO of Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. As affordable housing development organizations lack sustainable levels of income to manage and maintain properties, the sustainability and stability of affordable housing properties is threatened.
According to Warren Hanson, “The COVID-19 pandemic makes it clear that ‘housing is healthcare,’ for all of us, and that without adequate housing there will be more illness in our communities,”
Of Minnesota’s 120,000 affordable housing units, low income families living in 38,000 rental units are without any form of rental assistance. Rental income declines are clear evidence of tenant inability to pay rent. According to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, even before the crisis, more than 1 in 4 – or 572,133 households in Minnesota – pay more than they can afford, and sacrifice food, education or medicine in order to pay rent. For renters who are still without work and lack adequate income supports, eviction within the year is a real threat facing families throughout the state.