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Rent Help MN has used more than half of its funds

Has received more than 65,000 applicants
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:57 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A federally funded program, Rent Help MN program had about $450 million when it launched. So far, the state has dished out around $274 million of these fund and applications keep coming. More than 65,000 applications have been submitted.

“It’s been a godsend for many families, but it was one-time money from the Congress,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho. “At some point in time, we will run out of this money.”

With the pandemic putting many out of work and routines, the money was seen as a way of getting people to the other side of the crisis. However, for many, the crisis is not over.

“That is really what people were behind on, in rent and utilities,” said Ho. “When they passed it last December, and last March, I think nobody thought we’d still be talking about being in crisis mode.”

With these concerns on the horizon, could this put an extra burden on tenants in the near future when these funds run dry? At United Way of Olmsted County, data shows paying rent has always been a main issue:

“We have absolutely seen that the need has increased, however, it’s definitely true that housing needs, including rent assistance, have been one of the greatest needs in the community for a long time,” said Emily Johnston, the VP of Impact and Engagement at United Way of Olmsted County.

And that access to these funds is what’s potentially causing that uptick in demand for renter’s assistance.

“Are we seeing the increase in need because the need’s never been there before? Or because people are realizing that there are resources there to help them, and so they’re accessing those resources for the first time even before the pandemic. So, a little bit of both probably,” said Johnston.

Both say many are still in need, as October and November saw the most money made in payments to rent assistance.

“There is certainly still a need out there to get that rent assistance, and it’s certainly greater than it has been in the past,” said Johnston.

“The eligibility is pretty simple. There’s a fair amount of technical stuff we need to collect in order to cut a check with the right amount to the right person, but the eligibility requirements that the Congress gave us are pretty broad,” said Ho.

To see if you are eligible, dial 2-1-1 or visit renthelpmn.org.

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