The Zero Balance Project: Rental Assistance in Dakota, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, and Minneapolis and St Paul

View this page in other languages: Hmong, Karen, Oromo, SomaliSpanish

The counties of Dakota, Hennepin and Ramsey, and the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are offering emergency rental assistance through a program called The Zero Balance Project.
In The Zero Balance Project, landlords start and lead the application on behalf of their renters.

The application for landlords is closed.

Renters who were invited to apply have until December 5th to complete their part of the application.

Renters apply here 
(When logging in or creating your account, you must use the email address entered by your landlord when they started the application).

Submitting an application is not a guarantee of funding.  The Zero Balance Project may extend the renter deadline if program funding allows. Help will still be available after the deadline! Renters who have received help through Zero Balance Project can continue to request more help through Zero Balance Project if they need it.

All other renters can visit RentHelpMN for emergency rental assistance. 

Through May 30, 2022, renters with unpaid rent are protected from eviction from late rent if they apply for rent help and tell their landlord. This includes the Zero Balance Project and RentHelpMN.

Once a renter has received assistance through the Zero Balance Project, they can request more help if it is needed. 

What Expenses are Eligible in The Zero Balance Project?

Unpaid rent
Dating back to March 13, 2020.

Unpaid utilities and fees included in the lease
Dating back to March 13, 2020.

  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Trash/Solid Waste/Recycling Collection
  • Bulk Fuel (Firewood, Wood pellets, propane)

Unpaid late fees 
Up to 8% of total rent, as allowed by MN statute, dating back to March 13, 2020.

3 Months of Future Rent (prospective rent) per request

  • Unpaid rent must be brought current before future rent payments are approved.
  • Utilities that are covered by the landlord as part of the rent payment are treated as rent.
  • Renters are eligible for additional help, up to a total of 15 months of help.

Which Renter Households are Eligible for The Zero Balance Project?

The renter is at risk of homelessness or housing instability.

The property is located in one of these areas:
  • Dakota County
  • Hennepin County, including Minneapolis
  • Ramsey County, including St. Paul

The income of the renter household is at or below 80% of Area Median Income:

  • 1 person household - $55,950
  • 2 person household - $63,950
  • 3 person household - $71,950
  • 4 person household - $79,900
  • 5 person household - $86,300
  • 6 person household - $92,700
  • 7 person household - $99,100
  • 8 person household - $105,500
At least one person in the renter household has qualified for employment benefits OR experienced a reduction in household income, incurred costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as:
  • Reduced hours or income.
  • Left job due to unsafe environment.
  • Left job to care for family.
  • Forced leave from work due to school closure or childcare changes.
  • Increased child care expenses.
  • Child at home due to school closures.
  • Internet access and computer costs required to work or attend school remotely.
  • Medical or funeral expenses due to COVID-19.
  • Purchase of personal protective equipment.
  • Alternative transportation costs.
  • Contracted COVID-19.
  • Quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure.
  • Cared for others with COVID-19.

What Landlords Need to Prepare For the Application to The Zero Balance Project

  • Completed w9.
  • Full copy of the lease. 
  • Property tax statement that shows where the property is located. (Dakota CountyHennepin County, Ramsey County)
  • Rent ledger that shows unpaid rent, fees, and utilities (only utilities included in the lease are reimbursed).
  • If the renter pays rent with the help of an income-based subsidy (e.g. Housing Choice Voucher) - A notice from the housing authority that shows how the renter portion of the rent was adjusted due to loss of income.
  • The renter's email address. This is how they are invited to complete their portion.

What Renters Need to Prepare for the Application to The Zero Balance Project

Verification of Income. 
In the application, renters are required to confirm that their income is eligible (View eligible incomes).

Many renters automatically qualify based on their zip code. These renters only need to report their annual income. The application offers this option to eligible renters.

For all other renters, the easiest option is to verify income over the phone. The number to call is listed on the income section of the online application. Request a call back by voicemail or email if the call center is closed, or use the options below. 

Online income verification options:

  • Upload a copy of the first 2 pages of your 2020 income tax return(s).

  • Upload the Income Attest form. Download a blank form here.

  • Upload paperwork that confirms eligibility for another income-based state or federal program. 

Uploaded documents must show your name and address and be dated after 1/1/2020.

Common Questions about The Zero Balance Project

What is the maximum amount I can apply for in each unit?
There is no limit.

Do my renters still have to live in the unit?
Yes. Exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis, if requested by the renter.

How do I apply for the 3 months of the prospective (future) rent?
The renters do this
. In the renter part of the application there is a check-box where they can apply for prospective (future) rent if they know they will be unable to pay those future months. 

My renters are worried this will impact other assistance/benefits they receive. Will it?
No. This does not count as income. The payment goes directly to the landlord.

My renters are undocumented and are afraid to submit their information. What should I tell them?
Household names are NOT reported to ICE. Dakota, Hennepin, and Ramsey County will get access to the data, and so will the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul.

My renters will not complete their part of the application. Can I still apply?
No. Renters must also complete their part of the application.

How do I check the status of the application?

  • Log into your Neighborly Account
  • In the left column, click on "Tenant"
  • "Application in Progress" means not all of the information has been submitted (by the landlord or the renter).

If my application is approved, when will I receive payment?
A check will be mailed to the address provided by the landlord within 14 days of approval. 

How are applications prioritized?
Applications are reviewed and paid on a first come, first served basis.

Only landlords can start an application for emergency rental assistance through the Zero Balance Project.  

Renters apply here 
(When logging in or creating your account, you must use the email address entered by your landlord when they started the application).

Track the Program's Progress

Zero Balance Dashboard 

Get program updates

Sign up for notifications

Common Questions

See the FAQ

RentHelpMN and Other Resources

Learn more

Spreadsheet to Upload Renters in Bulk

Are you applying on behalf of 10+ renters? Use this spreadsheet to upload in bulk

Promotional Flyers


Program Guide

View the Program Guide