Thursday, October 21, 2021

Minnesota is expediting rental assistance payments

Minnesota’s rental assistance program accelerated payments to landlords and tenants in September, but “we’re not yet where we need to be,” State Housing Finance Commissioner Jennifer Ho said Friday during a news conference.

Her agency has paid $87.5 million in rental assistance payments since April, including $41.8 million in September. This compares to the $18 million payment made in August.

While pay rates have improved, Ho said, “there is still work to be done.”

So far, the housing agency has received 45,727 applications for federally funded rental assistance. She said the money is reaching “extremely low-income people.” Much of this is going to people of color.

The agency and Minnesota’s largest cities and counties will receive $673 million in rent subsidies under two bills Congress passed last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Ho (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

“We still have funds available,” Ho said, and he encouraged renters and landlords who are eligible to apply for assistance. “We won’t run out of money,” she said.

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Tenants who are behind in paying rent but not requesting government assistance can be evicted from their homes or apartments from October 12.

Tenants who qualify and have applied for assistance are protected from eviction until June 1, 2022. To be eligible for assistance, renters’ income must be 80 percent or less of the median income in their county. In Eastern Metro, the income level is $55,950 for an individual, $63,950 for a couple, and $79,900 for a family of four.

Ho said the state agency has met a federal benchmark to pay the money it received. It is not at risk of losing its funding and may be eligible for some of the money that other states must return to the US Treasury.

For more information, visit online or call the 211 helpline (651-291-0211).

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