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Aged housing stock and poverty among the challenges

MONTEVIDEO -- Housing issues in the Upper Minnesota River Valley are many and complex, but demographics offer some insight into the situation.

Data collected from 2006-2008 and updated this spring by Minnesota Housing can help explain much of what is happening, both good and bad, according to Lisa Graphenteen, with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership.

On the good side, housing costs in the five counties served by the Region 6W Regional Development Commission are relatively low. Monthly payments for home mortgages or rents are among the lowest in the state.

Also, the majority of low-income residents are able to keep the portion of their income devoted to housing to less than 30 percent, in sharp contrast to urban areas of the state.

On the other side of the coin, household incomes in the counties are among the lowest in the state. Median household income in Big Stone County was $37,711, the second lowest in the state and just a notch above the lowest, $37,629 in neighboring Traverse County.

Poverty rates are high too. The poverty rate in Yellow Medicine County is 15.8 percent, followed by 15.5 percent in Big Stone County.

Not surprisingly, the region has not seen a lot of new construction and consequently its housing stock is among the oldest in the state. The median age of housing in the region falls between 54 and 63 years old, well above the median age for housing elsewhere in the state.

To view this and other community profiles for Minnesota, on the web: groups/secure/documents/admin/mhfa 008475.pdf

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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