Chart of the Day: Saint Paul Housing Cost vs. Income for Renters and Homeowners

There’s a wonderful new draft of a document called the “Housing Conditions and Trends Inventor, Needs Assessment, and Implementation Strategy” from the Saint Paul Planning and Economic Department that was released last week in conjunction with the draft Comprehensive Plan. It is chock full of housing data, including lots of information about the current state of affairs and trends around affordable housing in Saint Paul.

Here are two of the interesting charts that relate directly to housing affordability in the city. They show – for both renters and homeowners! – the trends around costs / rents against incomes for these two groups.

Here goes. The first is the homeownership cost trends chart:

This one shows the same kind of data, but for renters:


The report does not have a ton of analysis, and is more of a really thought provoking data dump. But you can draw some conclusions from all of it.

The most obvious one to me is that there are really two separate worlds out there. The ownership market and the rental market might as well be in two separate cities. Compare the income scales along the Y-axis. A lot of this certainly reflects our city’s deep racial inequalities.

But there are also appear to be deep divisions in the housing market between rental and owner-occupied. The cost of owning a home is staying relatively flat, and people that own them can deal with the rising prices more easily because their incomes are also keeping pace. The rental market on the other hand is quickly getting out of reach for people at the bottom, especially as real incomes decline.

I would guess that this widening inequality is going to place a lot of pressure on the “NOAH” (naturally occurring affordable housing) category. If this trend continues, it’s not going to end well for folks at the low end of the wealth spectrum.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.