ST. CLOUD -- The demand for affordable housing in central Minnesota continues to grow. Neil Fortier is the Executive Director of the Stearns County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. He says their waiting list for people who want to get into an affordable housing apartment is 2 1/2 years long.

Rent is affordable to an individual if it's 30 percent of their income or less.  Most of these people are paying in excess of 40, 50 or sometimes even 60 percent of their income for rent.

Fortier says here in central Minnesota - to be below that 30 percent threshold - an individual would have to make $18.82 an hour for a two-bedroom apartment.

He says statewide there's a need for 300,000 affordable housing units, but developers are only producing about 10,000 new units a year, that's because there's only a limited amount of funding each year that is awarded to the state from the federal government.

There are two affordable housing projects that are in the preliminary stages here in the St. Cloud metro area.  One is an apartment building in St. Joseph and the other is the redevelopment of the current Tech high school in St. Cloud.

He says there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to affordable housing. He says the housing does not bring crime to the area or lower property values.

There is both a credit check and a criminal background check.  If there are felonies on their record we'll take a hard look at those, especially if they're within the past five years.  Minimum credit scores of 640 in order to qualify.

Fortier says rental rates have been climbing five-to-seven percent annual here in Central Minnesota.

Meanwhile, he says companies are having a hard time hiring more workers due to a lack of affordable housing in their communities.

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