Minnesota Housing launches online ‘RentHelpMN’ application, to provide rental assistance for people impacted by COVID-19

On April 20th Minnesota Housing launched the COVID-19 emergency rental assistance online application through RentHelpMN.org. About 30 local community-based organizations are working with Minnesota Housing to assist people with their applications, including some Community Action Agencies.

“COVID-19 did not create the housing crisis in Minnesota, but it did exacerbate it. This program will help keep Minnesotans safely and stably housed throughout and following the pandemic,” said Bill Grant, executive director of Minnesota Community Action Partnership, a network of 24 Community Action Agencies and 11 Tribal Nations across the state that provide various services that aim to move people out of poverty.

This assistance will provide $375 million in rental assistance to Minnesotans who have been impacted by COVID-19 and have struggled to pay their rent and utility bills. This program is open to all Minnesota households at 80 percent of area median income or below (more information about income limits available here: https://www.renthelpmn.org/learn-more).

Some eligibility details include:

  • The rental and utility assistance is currently open to renters who back-owe payments since March 13, 2020. Applicants can apply for back-owed rent and an additional three months forward rent all in one application if they believe they will still need assistance into the future at the same time. If renters need additional assistance in the future, they will need to reapply for forward paying rental assistance three-months at a time.
  • Back-owed utilities are an eligible expense through the rental assistance program. These utilities include electric, natural gas, delivered fuels, trash/ recycling, water and sewage. Internet and phone bills do not count as eligible expenses. Utility assistance, however, is NOT available for future utility bills, unlike rent.
  • Eligible housing payments include rent in either single-family homes or apartment buildings, rented manufactured homes and/or manufactured home park lot rentals, and hotel and motel payments for people’s who primary residence is a hotel or motel.
  • Assistance through RentHelpMN is for a maximum of 15 months in total. The assistance does not need to be in consecutive months and can be a mix of back and forward paying rental assistance.

The emergency rental assistance was passed by Congress in December 2020. Congress provided about $375 million in this slice of rental and utility assistance through September 30, 2022, and an additional about $200 million will be coming to the state for rental and utility assistance through the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March 2021.

Homeowners are not eligible for mortgage or utility assistance through this rental assistance program, but $128 million will be available to Minnesotans for homeowner assistance from the federal government in the near future.

For help applying to the program or questions about eligibility, please call Tri-Valley Community Assistance Programs at 800-201-3475.