Spotlight | Housing Insecurity in Saint Paul

The 2019 Read Brave theme is housing, a critical topic in Saint Paul where thousands of people struggle to afford housing. Learn more about the current housing situation in Saint Paul. Information provided by Saint Paul's Department of Planning & Economic Development.

City of Saint Paul Housing Statistics

  • There are 112,803 total households in Saint Paul. This number is forecasted to grow to 131,400 households by 2030, necessitating the creation of more than 18,000 new housing units.
  • There are 119,625 total housing units in Saint Paul, 72% of which are 50 years or older.
  • Of those total units, 112,571 are occupied:
    • 49.5% are owner occupied
    • 50.5% are renter occupied
  • 50% of renter households are cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income for housing. There are significant racial disparities in how this plays out.

Saint Paul Per Capita Income Gap

Per capita income is defined as the average amount of income earned among a group of people in a year. Over the last five decades, the gap in pay between workers at the top and bottom of the income scale has grown consistently — both nationally and in Saint Paul — widening the gap in per capita income between white people and people of color.

Saint Paul Cost-burdened Households Gap

This statistic on its own does not fully capture the realities for low-income families. A low-income household that earns $12,000 per year may not have enough money left to pay other expenses after spending 30% of their income on housing. Additionally, the statistic makes no adjustment for family size. A household with just one person will have fewer financial demands than a household with more people.

Saint Paul Homeownership Gap

Homeownership is defined as a household living in a space they own and control, rather paying rent to stay in a space owned and controlled by someone else. Homeownership is not about the form of housing — people in single-family houses can be either renters or owners; similarly, people in multi-unit buildings can be renters or owners of the individual units.

Saint Paul's Affordable Housing Strategy


  • Construction of affordable rental units targeted to those families earning 30 to 50% of the Area Median Income, which, for the Metropolitan area, is $94,300 for a family of four.
  • Support for single-family housing developments.
  • Investment in efficient housing models — manufactured homes, tiny homes, land trust, etc.


  • Preserve Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) — rental properties that are affordable, but do not receive federal funding.
  • Adopt a 4D policy (40% reduction in property taxes) to preserve affordable rents on 250 area NOAH units.
  • Continue Saint Paul’s Rental Rehab Loan Program, which was created to assist responsible landlords with health and safety-related property improvements and preserve affordable rental options.  
  • Refinance existing affordable properties with expiring loan terms.
  • Continue to deploy Federal dollars for homeowner rehab assistance.
  • Develop policies and tools to support aging in place (in home and in neighborhood).


  • Landlord training on fair housing.
  • Expand tenant protections and provide emergency housing assistance.
  • Continue support for services to residents experiencing homelessness, including winter shelters.
  • Expand acceptance of Section 8 vouchers.
  • Explore expanding down-payment assistance partnerships and programs.


  • $71 million to be invested over three years.
  • $59 million in Federal grant monies, bond authority, and tax credits.        
    • 2018–19 funds in hand for:
      • Multifamily and single-family new construction
      • Inspiring Communities — Saint Paul’s housing redevelopment strategy to provide focused investment in neighborhoods most impacted by foreclosure and vacancy
      • Homeowner and rental rehab
      • Homelessness prevention
    • Additional Federal dollars expected in 2020–21 for affordable housing investment.
  • $12 million from various sources invested in the new Saint Paul Housing Trust Fund.        
    • $10 million one-time City budget investment, deployed over three years
    • $1 million ongoing investment in Saint Paul’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority
    • $1 million ongoing investment in Saint Paul’s Neighborhood STAR program, which distributes funds for capital improvements to further residential, economic, and commercial development in Saint Paul