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Continued: Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor

  • Article by: CHRIS SERRES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 16, 2014 - 10:31 PM

Vicki Parchman, 55, of Brooklyn Park got word in November that she no longer qualified for a three-bedroom apartment, which she shares with her son, 27, and grandson, 13. To stay, she would have to pay $325 more in monthly rent — money she does not have.

This month, Parchman started relying on a local food bank, but that often means going without fresh fruit and vegetables. She also huddles under a blanket during the day to save on heating bills. “I feel like society has given up on us,” she said.

At City Limits Apartments, a 198-unit complex tucked between an Interstate 35W overpass and a Cub Foods supermarket in south Minneapolis, mothers and fathers, often with children in tow, have been pouring into the leasing office for several weeks. The fortunate ones were able to move to one-bedroom units within the complex. But one-bedroom units quickly filled up, forcing as many as 10 families to move out because they could no longer afford the rent, according to Kris Relyea, assistant property manager for City Limits.

The challenge is magnified by a statewide shortage of affordable housing, a tight rental market and the fact that many landlords are reluctant to rent to Section 8 tenants. The Twin Cities area has the seventh-tightest rental market in the nation.

“There are still certain landlords who think people getting Section 8 will leave holes in your wall and burns in your carpet,” said Ethrophic Burnett, a board member at City of Lakes Community Land Trust, a Minneapolis nonprofit.

Richelle Richardson, a developmentally disabled resident at City Limits, struggled to decipher the letter she received in November from the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. She brought it to her mother, who explained that she would now have to pay nearly twice as much for her two-bedroom apartment.

Richardson doesn’t want to move: Her apartment is walking distance from a bus line and grocery shopping; her 15-year-old daughter attends Southwest High School, her alma mater. Still, Richardson isn’t sure how she’s going to find an extra $200 each month on her $800 monthly disability check.

“I see how many people are moving out of here, and it just makes me sad,” Richardson said. “You’ve just got to have thick skin to get by.”

 

Staff writer Jim Buchta contributed to this report. Chris Serres • 612-673-4308 Twitter: @chrisserres

  • related content

  • Richelle Richardson had her rental assistance decreased recently, making it difficult for her to make ends meet living in Minneapolis.

  • Housing Vouchers by the numbers

    30,700

    Number of Minnesotans with Section 8 housing vouchers

    3,200

    Estimated number who could lose their vouchers by the end of 2014

    $13,564

    Average annual household income of Minnesotans on Section 8

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