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Minnesota rent assistance program continues to see applications

RentHelpMN says they will pay out every penny they've been allocated.

A program to help Minnesota residents from getting behind on their rent continues to see high volumes of applications for assistance.

RentHelpMN was created to assist renters during the COVID-19 pandemic in staying current on their rent and utilities. Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho says since the program’s inception last May, over $333M has been paid out to renters. She says the program will continue to accept applications as long as it is able to.

Ho says January has already been a very active month, although some households seem to be catching up.

"In the first week, we had over 3,000 applications. The big difference is, though that last month the total request for dollars in each application is a little lower. It feels like some of the households who came in initially, who might have been behind say, ten months, we're more likely now to see people who are behind a month or two. Therefore the payouts are lower per claim than they were earlier on in the program."

Ho says this month presents a number of challenges for tenants, as the child tax credit has ended, utility rates have increased and the impacts of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have yet to be seen.

Ho says eviction filings increased in the fourth quarter, but were still below average.

She says an additional $231M in funding has been requested from the Treasury Department, but no new allocations are expected this round. Ho says they will request more funding, but are not counting on it.

Ho says renters could previously request three month’s rent, but the forward rent policy has now changed to only allowing one month’s rent. Ho says this will allow assistance to be granted to twice as many households in order to prevent imminent evictions.