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For many years, the humble boarding house was considered a thing of the past. Once a staple of urban living, they were largely wiped out in the U.S. after post-World War II urban renewal campaigns. Nowadays, you’ll likely only see boarding houses pop up in historical TV shows like “The Knick” or “The Alienist.” But communal housing is making a comeback in the Twin Cities!


A New Yet Familiar Response to the Minneapolis Housing Crisis

“Rooming houses, if run properly, can be a big part of the solution to the housing crisis and the affordable housing crisis.” Bob Bono, Property Manager for Alliance Housing1

The serious affordable housing crisis in Minneapolis and St. Paul has driven the rising popularity of boarding homes, where residents have private rooms but share bathing and kitchen areas with their fellow residents. In fact, multiple local nonprofit organizations like Alliance Housing and Minnesota Housing Partnership, have positioned communal homes as a solution for the crisis.

“Single-room occupancy, that model we get. Right. That it is healthy for folks to live in community, healthy for them to live together and a great way to reduce the housing costs that folks are paying.” ­– Anne Mavity, Executive Director of Minneapolis Housing Partnership


Price of Housing in Twin Cities Continues to Skyrocket

To better understand the growing need for boarding houses and why so many nonprofits and community members are advocating for more to be established, one should take a closer look at the affordable housing crisis in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

A recent report from the Family Housing Fund found that the cost of housing in the Twin Cities region is now higher than cities like Austin and Nashville.2 The predicted trajectory: Minneapolis and St. Paul will become just as expensive as cities like Seattle and Denver which will present a significant obstacle for the area’s growing workforce and economic progress.

“Affordable apartments are disappearing from our landscape, we have a dramatic shortage of entry level homes to purchase and at the same time, we have a projected economic growth that will bring 368,000 new workers to our region over the next 20 years.” – Ellen Sahil, President of Family Housing Fund3

Rising housing costs and the lack of affordable housing has been a problem in the Twin Cities for several years now. Statistics show that 1 in 5 Twin Cities workers pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing and close to 50,000 fewer jobs could be the ultimate result of this housing shortage.

That’s why more and more low-income families and minimum labor workers are turning to boarding houses and other communal housing options for an affordable place to live. Rooms for rent in Minneapolis and St. Paul with some shared facilities is often the best option.


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  1. Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio News – The old ‘flop house’ emerges as solution to affordable housing crisis
  2. Gabriela Norton, Minnesota Housing Partnership – State of the State’s Housing 2019
  3. Nina Moini, Minnesota Public Radio News – Report: Cost of housing in Twin Cities region on track to rival Denver, Seattle

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