ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- Economic developers, builders, city leaders and employers gathered at St. Cloud State University Thursday morning to shine a light on the complexities surrounding affordable living in central Minnesota.

The Workforce Housing Summit brought in experts in several fields to discuss the scope and magnitude affordable housing plays in our workforce.

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Nick Erickson is the Executive Director of the Housing Affordability Institute. He says the supply and demand dynamics are playing huge factors in communities across the states.

It's hard to move to an area and find a job if there is not a place to live. It's also hard to retain employees if housing affordability and access are challenged. We are seeing that not just in St. Cloud but across the country.

Erickson says looking at the Midwest region, the cost to build a new home in Minnesota is roughly $100,000 more than surrounding states.

Luke Greiner is the Regional Market Analyst at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

He says while the job market in St. Cloud is near pre-pandemic levels, there still isn't enough people to fill the job openings currently available.

We have roughly 2 openings for every unemployed working, this is similar nationwide. So it's not like we can just pull people from somewhere else, everybody is fighting for workers.

Greiner says over the last two years, the average home cost has increased by 53%, while the average wage increase was only 14% in that same period.

St. Cloud State Economist King Banaian estimates a person would need a full-time job paying nearly $19 per hour to afford the rent of a two-bedroom apartment in the St. Cloud area.

A 2019 study by the city of St. Cloud indicated the city's population would grow over 7,000 people and nearly 3,000 households by 2030. From 2030 to 2040, 2,000 additional houses were projected to be needed.

Erickson says this isn't something that will be fixed overnight, but it's nice see this problem finally getting the attention it needs.






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