Workforce Housing for our Health Workers

The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) released their 2022 Workforce Report on October 25, 2022, outlining the workforce shortage crisis facing the Healthcare industry.

Highlights from the report included:

  • Healthcare jobs vacancy rate went from 6% to 21% over the last year.
  • Staff turnover rate, for those employed less than 5 years, is 25%.
  • Many more healthcare workers are choosing to work part-time. Over-all, more than 44% of hospital workers are employed less than full-time up from 37% in 2016.

I have spent the last year engaging with healthcare leaders and listening deeply to identify links between housing and health. Very often hospitals talk about their Community Health Needs Assessments, which are an important expression of what the community they serve sees as critical to improving health. The top priorities I heard about were mental health and affordable housing needs. However, when you talk about the business of healthcare the focus quickly shifts to workforce shortages and the challenge of retaining staff.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) produces a job in demand report which indicates that 49% of occupations in the healthcare field are rated in the highest demand categories of 4 or 5 stars. The top five job opening categories include nurse, nursing assistant, medical assistant, health and personal care aids, and licensed practical/vocational nurse. None of these openings require more than an associate degree, and none pay higher than $50,000 on average, except for nurse roles. This emphasizes healthcare workers’ needs for affordable workforce housing.

Access to affordable workforce housing can offer relief from financial stress, improve community health by ensuring healthcare heroes have safe personal space to relax and rejuvenate, and can be a part of a worker retention strategy, when coordinated with hospitals and healthcare employers. This is especially true in greater Minnesota, where the workforce housing shortage is particularly acute, and employers like Digi-Key, Polaris, Hormel, and Mayo Clinic have invested in and built housing to attract and retain their workforces.

Through the end of October 2022, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund has financed a total of nearly 1,300 units to serve families who benefit from greater stability, budget relief, reduced stress on mental health, and increase disposable income for food, healthcare, and transportation. Ninety percent of those units are within 2 miles of a healthcare facility and employment center. Eighty percent of those units provide affordable workforce housing for employees. This proximity is another way that housing and healthcare intersect. A more pronounced focus on this connection could produce increased benefits for healthcare institutions, workers, patient care, and community health.


Read the full 2022 Workforce Housing Report


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