Access Opportunity. Build Wealth.

In an economy that works for everyone, homeownership and access to financing aren’t influenced by race or ethnicity. Renting a home doesn’t require more than 30% of household’s income, especially for those who are already struggling to make ends meet. And neighborhoods with higher rates of transit-dependence are able to access employment and job centers in a reasonable commute time.

mortgage denial

Share of middle-income ($50-100K) MSP households denied financing to purchase a home (%)

Most homebuyers need a mortgage to buy a home. If a borrower is denied financing to mortgage a home, this has a direct impact on homeownership. Mortgage denials can occur for a variety of reasons, including: poor credit history, high amount of debt, unstable income and employment, and racial discrimination.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

What we’re seeing

  • Denial rates have decreased: Comparing 2017 to 2015, mortgage denial rates have decreased for middle-income households of every racial and ethnic group except American Indian

  • High denial rate for middle-income Black applicants: In 2017, more than one-in-ten middle-income Black applicants was denied home financing (10.8%), an increase of 2.2% from 2016

  • Low denial rate for middle-income White applicants: From 2015-2017, less than one-in-twenty White applicants was denied home financing, the denial rate falling to a low of 4.6% in 2017

How many people live in MSP, by race/ethnicity?

40-50% of households in every racial and ethnic group who applied for financing 2017 are classified as middle-income by this definition. Data includes only loan applications for home purchases, not remodels or refinancing; includes FHA- and VA-guaranteed loans. Data excludes applications withdrawn by applicant, files closed for incompleteness, pre-approval requests, and loans purchased by institutions.


Share of middle-income ($50-100K) MSP households that own their home (%)

Owning a home can provide economic stability and is a primary means to accumulate and pass on wealth. It wasn’t until 1968, with the passage of the Fair Housing Act, that discriminatory practices in home selling, mortgage lending, and steering people of color from certain neighborhoods, were made illegal. Yet these legacies of discrimination and segregation continue to impact homeownership rates for people of color. For more detailed analyses of homeownership and other housing topics in Minnesota, check out the 2019 biennial report on the State of the State’s Housing produced by the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

5-Year Estimate 2013-17 (%)

Source: American Community Survey (ACS)

What we’re seeing

  • Wide gaps between middle-income White and non-White households: From 2013-17, homeownership among middle-income White households was around 20-30% higher than among middle-income households of all other racial or ethnic groups

  • Low homeownership among middle-income Black households: From 2013-17, homeownership among middle-income Black households was just above 40%

How many people live in MSP, by race/ethnicity?

Cost Burden of Renting

Share of low-income MSP renters that spend 30% or more of their income on housing (%)

Housing is often the largest expense for a household. When renters’ housing costs exceed 30% of their income they face increased financial and housing instability, including a greater risk of eviction – all of which have impacts on employment, educational success, health, and other outcomes. For a more detailed analysis of the unsubsidized multifamily rental market in the Twin Cities, check out this 2018 report from the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

5-Year Estimate 2013-17 (%)

Source: American Community Survey (ACS)

What we’re seeing

  • The majority of low-income renters are cost-burdened: In 2017, over 60% of low-income renters of all racial or ethnic groups were cost-burdened

How many people live in MSP, by race/ethnicity?

Low-income defined as <60% of the area median income (AMI), given household size (i.e., income threshold is higher for larger households). Cost of utilities not included as a part of rent. Data for MSP area derived from Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs)

Job Access

Number of jobs accessible within 30 minutes by transit or walking in MSP

Throughout the US, automobile ownership plays an out-sized role for individual participation in the regional economy. Planning, zoning, and development decisions have often prioritized auto-travel, making it difficult for workers who cannot afford the costs of a personal vehicle to reach jobs and other destinations. These data illustrate how many jobs are accessible within 30 minutes of transit or walking by residents in a given census tract.

Note: Census tracts with a poverty rate >20% have been designated as high-poverty. All others have been designated as low-poverty.


High-poverty census tracts

Jobs Accessible Tracts Population

Number of jobs accessible to people in high-poverty census tracts, share of population (%)

What we’re seeing

  • Many people in high-poverty tracts have limited access to jobs by transit: Nearly half of all people living in high-poverty census tracts (almost 190,000 people) can access less than 50,000 jobs within 30 minutes by transit or walking

  • High-poverty census tracts along light-rail and near downtowns have greatest access to jobs: With higher densities and more frequent transit service, residents in these tracts can access greater numbers of jobs. However, nearby areas to the north and west of downtown Minneapolis and encircling downtown Saint Paul have fewer transit-accessible jobs

  • Spatial mismatch of jobs and workers is a challenge: A 2016 University of Minnesota study notes that “Disadvantaged urban workers often find themselves in a double bind. They may be qualified for many entry-level jobs but have no way of reaching suburban employment centers; they may also be easily able to reach many jobs nearby, but lack the qualifications for them.”

  • Opportunities to address the mismatch: A suite of interventions can begin to address mismatches, including improved transit routes and schedules, expanded connections to employment centers and underserved areas, and greater coordination between economic developers, workforce providers, and transportation planners.[1]

    [1] Advancing Transportation Equity: Research and Practice. University of Minnesota. 2/19.

Source: University of Minnesota Accessibility Observatory; Data for census tracts was calculated by taking a simple average of the census block groups within that tract.

What Economic Inclusion Looks like


Unemployed, transit-dependent workers are often caught between a rock and a hard place: they may be qualified for suburban jobs they have no way to get to, but unqualified for downtown jobs they could easily reach by transit. These two statements describe the interconnected problems of spatial mismatch and skills mismatch.

This video recaps a study that analyzed conditions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and laid out an approach for reconciling those mismatches by coordinating transit planning, job training, and job placement services. Special thanks to Streetfilms and Metro Transit for footage.

Video Credit: University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies (CTS)

What does wealth mean for a community where decades of disinvestment have occurred? How do they counteract the intentionality of those actions and how do they see, experience, and establish wealth? Building wealth in these communities can look and feel very different than other neighborhoods. In North Minneapolis, work is being done to amplify the need for wealth building among Northsiders.

Video Credit: Northside Storyville

What you can do


Locate Jobs near Transit & Housing

When making decisions to locate or expand, employers should consider where their current and future workforce lives. Municipalities can encourage job-focused economic development in under-invested areas.

The Saint Paul Port Authority has turned contaminated property into 21 business centers, providing hundreds of jobs targeted to Saint Paul residents.

Minneapolis’ Grow North program provides incentives for investing in and hiring from North Minneapolis.


locate housing near transit & jobs

Locating housing - especially affordable housing - near transit and job centers gives residents/employees transportation options, potentially lowers their commute costs and times, and increases ridership on transit systems.

The Metropolitan Council’s Livable Community Grants provide support for housing and mixed use investment near transit and job centers.

financial Empowerment

These organizations are helping Minnesotans improve their credit scores, access banking services, reduce costly payments to unscrupulous lenders, and build savings for household goals.


Increase housing stability


invest in Transit


Homebuyer Assistance