Minneapolis and St. Paul receive 10,000 rental assistance applications and counting

    Photo courtesy of the City of Minneapolis.

    More than 4,500 Minneapolis households have applied for emergency housing assistance since the city began accepting applications Wednesday morning, three times more households than will receive grants.

    In St. Paul, more than 5,200 people applied for housing assistance during the 10-day application period, which ended April 19. Around 1,000 eligible families will be selected to receive a $1,000 grant.

    Minneapolis’s program will help around 1,500 households who have lost income because of COVID-19 pay rent and utilities with grants up to $2,000.

    Andrea Brennan, director of housing policy and development for Minneapolis, said she was not at all surprised by the surge of applications.

    “The need was severe before COVID-19, and we also know that lower income households have been hit particularly hard in this crisis,” Brennan said.

    Over 28,000 households in Minneapolis qualify for the program based on the income limits of 30% of the area median income, or $28,000 for a three-person household.

    Across the state, more than half a million Minnesotans have applied for unemployment since the crisis took hold in mid-March.

    The funding is intended to help households left out of federal and state relief packages and doesn’t consider a family’s immigration or documentation status.  Both cities provided information about the assistance in five languages, and set up designated phone numbers for people without internet.

    In Minneapolis, hundreds of people have left voicemails so far, and dozens of city workers have volunteered — including Council Member Lisa Goodman — to help take applications over the phone.

    “We are all hands on deck,” Brennan said. “So we are trying to get as much capacity in the city as we can to just deal with the sheer volume of calls we’re getting.”

    Minneapolis stops taking applications at noon on Monday. Brennan says the city will then select eligible families through a randomized lottery system.

    Max Nesterak
    Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.