Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


On any given night an estimated 10,500 people are homeless in Minnesota — two-thirds of them in the metro area, according to Wilder Research results.

Concurrently, thousands who work steadily don't earn enough to either own homes or comfortably pay for good rental housing. The Minnesota Housing Partnership's 2024 "Out of Reach" housing assessment reported that "None of the top five in-demand jobs pay enough for workers to own a home, and four of the five jobs' wages aren't enough for quality rental housing." Among those jobs are home and health care workers, cashiers and hospitality workers.

"Affordable" is generally defined as spending no more than 30% of household income on housing. Yet studies have shown that too many renters — including seniors and those in minimum-wage jobs — pay much more than that proportion, which forces them to cut back on other necessities.

The need for all types of affordable housing is critical. That's why it is worth lauding the much-needed multiple housing developments that have opened recently or are in the works in the Twin Cities.

Within the last month, several affordable-housing developments broke ground. Trellis and Agate Housing and Services began work on a new 54-bed shelter and 50 affordable apartments in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. Project for Pride in Living (PPL) and Wells Fargo began construction on 110 affordable apartments off Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue.

PPL, along with Simpson Housing Services, started building a 72-bed shelter and 42 affordable apartments, Simpson's biggest project in its four decades. And in May, Emma Norton Services and PPL opened new supportive and affordable housing in the Highland Bridge redevelopment in St. Paul.

"There's been a backlog of projects that have been just waiting and ready to go," Paul Williams, CEO of Project for Pride in Living, told the Star Tribune. "More resources helped accelerate the work."

Building and renovating places to live for those with no or lower incomes is challenging — often requiring public/private/nonprofit partnerships to accomplish. Some of the necessary funding to leverage other spending came from the state during the 2023 legislative session. Nonprofit leaders praise the DFL-controlled Legislature for approving a $1 billion housing bill last year, boosted by the state's record-breaking budget surplus. Cities and counties were also able to contribute with remaining federal COVID-19 funds.

Additional good news on the affordable housing front came during a recent visit from U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. While in Minneapolis meeting with politicians and business leaders, Yellen noted that not one state in the U.S. has a sufficient supply of units that are affordable for renters. Then she announced a new $100 million to boost the Federal Financing Bank's financing of affordable housing and other measures over three years.

Yellen toured Family Housing Expansion Project apartments in Minneapolis, which was completed last year. With 84 units in 16 buildings around the city, it is the largest new-unit housing project 20 years developed by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.

During his State of the City address in May, Mayor Jacob Frey said the city has invested $363 million in affordable rental housing and homeownership programs in the past six years and has produced 4,679 total units of affordable housing.

As we have previously noted, increasing the full range of affordable housing has a positive ripple effect that benefits all of society. Children who are stably housed are healthier and do better in school. Adults with permanent addresses are also healthier and better positioned to work and pay taxes. Some of those outcomes can reduce the need for social services.

The recent flurry of new affordable housing options is encouraging and welcome; it will help chip away at the problem. Still, the supply issue is far from solved. Keep the funding momentum going to help Minnesotans find stable, safe affordable places to call home.