COVID-19 Resources for Renters

The information provided here is general in nature and is not intended to be legal or health advice. It is designed to help renters understand the impact of COVID-19, and some helpful resources.

Help Coming Soon for Renters Behind on Rent Due to COVID-19
Governor Walz announced that up to $100 million of funding will be allocated from the state’s COVID-19 Relief Fund to create a new housing assistance program to help renters that have fallen behind on rent and/or utilities due to COVID-19.

Sometime in the next few weeks an application will open up. If a renter is eligible, a payment will be made directly to their landlord to cover the amount past due. 

Who is eligible to apply for assistance?
Individuals and households must meet all of these criteria:

1. Minnesota resident.

2. Income at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines, with a preference for those at or below 200%. 
To see if an income qualifies, click here.

3. Have an eligible expense that was incurred after March 1, 2020 that is past due.
Housing assistance funds can only be used for eligible expenses incurred between March 1 an December 30th, 2020. 

4. Unable to make the payment(s) owed because of the public health emergency.
For example: unemployment, illness, or another COVID-19 related issue.

5. What expenses are eligible?
Rent payments. Utility payments. Additional housing related costs approved by Minnesota Housing.

6. How are payments made?
Funds are paid directly to the landlord. For utlities, funds are paid directly to the utility company.

HEADS UP! 
We recommend that you connect with your landlord now to confirm exactly how much you are behind on rent. This will make filling out the application faster and easier.

Get notified when the application opens up!
Subscribe to our Housing Connection newsletter here.


Mediation Services
Are you struggling to effectively resolve challenging problems with your landlord? Check out the free services offered by Community Mediation Minnesota. Learn more


COVID-19 Housing Court Procedures
Learn how eviction cases are being handled during the pandemic. COVID-19 Housing Court Procedures


Hennepin County Emergency Rental Assistance
Residents in suburban Hennepin County cities who have been financially harmed by COVID-19 may be eligible for emergency rental assistance. Learn more.


Olmsted County Temporary Rental Assistance Program
How to qualify for the program:
  • Documented loss of income since March 2020.
  • Unemployment reduction.
  • Temporary income is below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).
  • Less than $2,000 in bank accounts.
  • Tenant pays 30% of income, including unemployment benefits, in rent (remainder is paid by the HRA).
  • Tenant must otherwise be in good standing with the landlord.

To learn more or apply, call 507-328-7130 or email covidrenthelp@co.olmsted.mn.us.


How do unemployment and stimulus payments impact income requirements for HUD housing?
Because the stimulus assistance is technically an advance tax credit, and because the up to $600 per week federal unemployment insurance payments issued under the CARES Act are temporary, they are not to be included in calculations of income.

However, regular payments of unemployment insurance (issued by the state) are treated as income.


Free Legal Webinar for Renters on COVID-19 Rental Housing Issues

What the recording of this webinar about current legal issues that Minnesota renters are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers several of the most frequent questions HOME Line is hearing from clients who are contacting their statewide tenant hotlin. Watch the webinar


Evictions

Due to COVID-19, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order that stops evictions, lease terminations, and Writs of Recovery during the peacetime emergency. The state of Minnesota is still under the peacetime emergency, so the eviction moratorium still applies. Learn More: FAQ Executive Order.


Unemployment Insurance
Were your work hours reduced or eliminated? Apply for unemployment insurance. Apply online in English, Hmong, Somali or Spanish

Do you speak a language other than English, Hmong, Somali, or Spanish? If so, call 651-296-3644 to start the application process.


Emergency Assistance
Do you need help paying for rent, food or childcare? If so, apply for emergency assistance. Contact your county human services agency to get started.


Stimulus Payment Checks
The IRS has stated that the fastest way to receive your stimulus check is to ensure you’ve filed your 2018 or 2019 tax return. Your 2019 return (or 2018 if 2019 hasn’t yet been submitted) will determine eligibility and money will be automatically sent to those who qualify.

Check the IRS website for updates here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus 

Who’s eligible for the $1,200 stimulus check?
Single tax filers with a 2019 income of $75,000 or less and married couples filing jointly with an income of $150,000. 

An additional $500 is allotted for each eligible child.

I am not typically required to file a tax return (low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans, and individuals with disabilities). Can I still receive my payment?
YES and... You will need to file a simple tax return. The IRS website will soon provide information and instructions on how to file a 2019 simple tax return.


Food
  • Find food shelves and free meals near you: Hunger Solutions
  • Minneapolis Public Schools is providing meals for its students. Learn more
  • St. Paul Public Schools is providing meals for its students. Learn more
  • Do you need long-term food benefits (SNAP)? Apply here 

Utilities
Xcel energy
will waive late fees and stop service disconnections if they are because of a COVID-19 hardship. Call 1-800-895-4999 for more information.

CenterPoint Energy will waive late fees and stop service disconnections if they are because of a COVID-19 hardship. Call 1-800-245-2377 for more information.


Internet
  • USI and Comcast are expanding access to the internet in the City of Minneapolis. Learn more
  • Low cost computer and internet resources. Learn more

Communication with your Landlord

If you are struggling to pay rent, or will have this problem soon, here are some tips for communicating with your landlord.
  • Talk to your landlord right away when the problem occurs.
  • Be honest with them about your current income situation. How has the spread of COVID-19 impacted your work?
  • Consider discussing the resources/assistance types that you’ve sought thus far.
  • Explain how vulnerable your family will be. How many members of the family will be impacted by the loss of housing?
  • Find out what other people in similar positions are doing with this landlord or with others. Discuss the Minnesota Multi Housing Association's 'shelter in place' guidelines.
  • Ask about payment arrangements.
Your landlord is likely experiencing a high degree of stress and concern over the current circumstances as well. Strive to ensure that your communication with them is as clear and calm as possible. Document your conversations.