Minneapolis provides $3 million in housing funds for renters

The gap funds are meant to provide assistance where state or federal aid might keep certain renters ineligible.

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Hailee Schievelbein

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Caitlin Anderson

The city of Minneapolis is trying to help renters during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering relief for households citywide.

In response to concerns from renters experiencing difficulty paying for rent or utility costs, the city will offer $3 million in housing funds to bridge a gap for those that might not be eligible for state or federal aid. Minneapolis residents with a household income of up to 50% area median income will be able to apply for the assistance. 

“There’s a tremendous amount of need … We also know that this crisis is hitting lower-income folks hard,” said Andrea Brennan, the city’s housing policy and development director. 

The city received over 7,800 applications before the deadline closed early last week. A maximum of $1,500, or $2,000 for households of three or more bedrooms, will be delivered directly to landlords or utility companies. The city is working now to allocate the funds with the first payments to be made in early May.

Two programs make up the $3 million in total funding. The Emergency Housing Assistance program will provide $2 million of the city funding, while the other third is an emergency expansion of the city’s Stable Homes Stable Schools program, which aids families with children in public schools.

To be eligible for the EHA program, Minneapolis residents had to have incomes at or below 30% AMI and have experienced significant disruptions due to COVID-19. These applicants will be randomly selected. 

In order to be eligible for the Stable Homes Stable Schools expansion program, applicants must have a child enrolled in a Minneapolis elementary school and have a gross household income of no more than 50% AMI, but prioritization will be given to 30% AMI.  

Dependents are not eligible for monetary assistance, including students who file as dependents under their parents. But documentation and citizenship status are not being taken into account, allowing some who might usually be excluded for other aid programs to receive city funding. 

“The state-level funding and the federal-level funding that’s been made available for housing isn’t really accessible for households that are not documented,” said Edward Goetz, director for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, which works with local communities on issues like housing. 

Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon said the high number of applicants shows significant demand for housing assistance.

“This is helping both the landlords and the renters and keeping things kind of stable in terms of the housing,” he said. “If we’re supposed to stay home and stay safe, it’s better if we keep our homes.”

The city of Minneapolis also provided emergency funding to small businesses, but eligibility was specific to certain neighborhoods, which left out some who also needed aid. 

Goetz said he hopes the initiative will provide housing assistance at a time when many are not able to work. 

“If the program is run efficiently and the money gets out …  it’s going to help tide over some households and some landlords for a short period of time,” he said. “The hope is that people will be able to get back to work and that incomes will, you know, rebound.”