McLeod County renters have experienced an average increase in rent of about 18 percent since 2000. That’s according to a report from the Minnesota Housing Partnership, a group of community developers, researchers, communicators and policy advocates focused on issues of affordable housing.
While rent in McLeod County has increased in the past 18 years, income has also increased by 17 percent, or from $28,230 to $32,995. This suggests wage increases kept pace with rent increases. In Meeker County, rent costs grew 14 percent while renters’ median income decreased by 2 percent.
Homeowners in McLeod County experienced no increase in the median value of their homes at $150,000. Homeowner income, however, has increased by nearly 20 percent since 2000. Hutchinson city staff reported at the end of last year that the median home value in town sits at $160,000, up from McLeod’s $150,000. The median home value in Meeker grew from $133,000 to $161,000.
Statewide, the report suggests that a lack of affordable housing is affecting many, with more disparate impacts for people of color, indigenous people, low-income families and seniors. Locally, the report says about 28 percent of McLeod County households, or 3,800, are cost-burdened.
A household paying more than 30 percent of its income on rent or a mortgage is considered cost-burdened. A cost-burdened household is less likely to afford basic needs such as food and health care. Statewide, 572,000 households fall under this category.
Furthermore, in McLeod County, 61 percent of senior renters are cost-burdened, ranking 12 out of 87. Similar numbers appear in metro-area counties, which range from 59 to 62 percent. Benton County tops that list with 71 percent of its senior renters cost-burdened.
Despite these numbers, the city of Hutchinson’s building valuation was strong last year, with 34 new single-family homes contributing $6.4 million to an overall $45 million valuation.
“Having a nice steady (housing construction rate) of 25 to 35 homes is a good thing for the community,” said Dan Jochum, Hutchinson building and planning director. “It’s a lot better than in 2009 when only a handful of homes were built.”
As of 2016, Hutchinson reported 6,040 housing units within city limits. Between 2013 and 2017, 70.2 percent of residents owned a home. About 86 percent of that figure lived in the same house for more than a year.
However, this doesn’t appear to affect the area’s declining population.
The southwest portion of the state, comprising 18 counties, is reportedly one of the least-populated regions with almost 28 percent of its households in McLeod and Kandiyohi counties. According to the report, the population is projected to decline by 6 percent by 2035. This is reportedly the largest population decline in the state.