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COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program

The COVID-19 Housing Assistance program is now accepting applications.
 
Please review the following information to see if you are eligible to apply and to learn more about how the program works. Please note: due to high demand for the program, applicants may experience wait times of several weeks or longer for application review.

What is the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program?

The COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program provides housing assistance payments to help prevent eviction, prevent homelessness, and maintain housing stability for eligible renters and homeowners. Local administrators will review applications from individuals and families requesting assistance, verify eligibility, and process payments for eligible expenses on behalf of households.

Am I eligible to apply?

To qualify for housing assistance, households must meet all of the criteria listed below:
  • Be a Minnesota resident.
  • Be a renter or homeowner with an income at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines, with a preference for those at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. To see if your income qualifies, please see the FY 2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • 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, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
  • Be unable to make the payment(s) owed because of the public health emergency due to unemployment, illness, or another COVID-19 related issue.
IMPORTANT: Homeowners with a federally backed mortgage may not be eligible for assistance.
If you have a federally backed mortgage covered under the CARES Act (includes loans from such agencies as the Federal Housing Administration, Veteran’s Administration, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac), you will be required to contact your mortgage servicer to obtain special forbearance, a loan modification, and/or set up a repayment plan. Visit www.consumerfinance.gov for more information.
 
If you currently receive rental assistance that adjusts with income (i.e. Housing Choice voucher, project-based assistance, or another form of state or federal rental assistance), you are generally not eligible to apply for rental assistance in the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program. You may still apply for assistance with eligible utility expenses.

What expenses may be eligible for assistance?

If needed to maintain housing security, avoid displacement, and are past their due date, eligible expenses may include:

  • Rent payments
  • Mortgage payments (including escrowed property taxes and insurance in the case of foreclosure prevention)
  • Contract for deed payments
  • Manufactured home park lot rents
  • Manufactured home payments
  • Utility payments (i.e. electricity, water, sewer, natural gas, garbage)
  • Homeowners Association fees
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Additional housing related costs approved by Minnesota Housing 

I think I'm eligible for this program. What is the application process?

There are three main steps in the application process:
  1. Determine initial eligibility
  2. Complete the online Common Household Application Form (application form)
  3. Work with a Local Administrator

Step 1: Determine Initial Eligibility

There are three ways to determine your eligibility:
  • Call 211 (Toll Free: 1.800.543.7709; Local: 651.291.0211)
  • Visit 211unitedway.org
  • Text "MNRENT" or "MNHOME" to 898-211
Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline has dedicated multilingual staff available to answer questions about the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.
 
Whether you call, text or go online, you will be asked the same set of initial eligibility questions. If you meet the initial eligibility criteria, you will be referred to the online application form and can select a local administrator from your geographic region to help you through the application process. There may be more than one administrator in your region, and you are free to choose any administrator that serves your region.
 
If you are not eligible for this housing assistance, you will be informed of that immediately and will be connected with other resources, if available.

Step 2: Complete the Online Common Household Application Form

If you meet the threshold for the initial eligibility you will create an account online and complete the full application form, including:
  • Select the type of housing assistance requested,
  • Upload income documentation, and
  • Provide evidence of past due housing expenses.
If you do not have computer access or need any other help, you can request assistance to help create your account and complete the full application.
 
Please note that determining final eligibility and the ability to issue any housing assistance payments is based on the information collected in the application form. Completing the application does not guarantee housing assistance payments.
 
Minnesota Housing cannot accept or process requests for housing assistance. Applications received by Minnesota Housing will be returned to the sender and will NOT be entered into the application system. 

Step 3: Work with a Local Administrator

Once your application is submitted, a local administrator will contact you to further discuss your application, collect and review the required documentation and, if approved, issue the housing assistance payments.  
 
*Due to a high demand for the program, it may take several weeks or longer for your local administrator to contact you after you submit the application form.
 
Gather the following documentation now so you are ready when you are contacted by your local administrator:
  • Proof of your past four weeks of income
  • The actual past due bill or notice you are seeking assistance for
  • The name, phone number and email address for the person or business who will receive the payment (if approved)
  • You can notify your landlord or mortgage servicer that they will need to fill out a W-9 form if your application is approved. W-9 forms are not required from utility companies. This form is causing much of the delay for eligible payment.

Is there a minimum or maximum amount I can apply for?

At this time, there is not a minimum or maximum dollar amount that you can request. However, the amount of housing assistance approved must be for an eligible expense and be supported with the appropriate documentation. All requests for housing assistance are subject to availability of program funds.

How long does the application process take to complete?

It can take several weeks or longer from the time an application is submitted until the local administrator contacts you to continue the process.
 
The length of time to process your application will vary, and includes factors such as whether you need help with documentation, the completeness of the documentation, and the number of applications under consideration by the local administrator.
 
Gather the following documentation now so you are ready when you are contacted by your local administrator:
  • Proof of your past four weeks of income
  • The actual past due bill or notice you are seeking assistance for
  • The name, phone number and email address for the person or business who will receive the payment (if approved)
  • You can notify your landlord or mortgage servicer that they will need to fill out a W-9 form if your application is approved. W-9 forms are not required from utility companies. This form is causing much of the delay for eligible payment.

What happens if I am determined to be not eligible or denied?

You will be informed why you are not eligible and directed to other resources, if available.

I was denied COVID-19 housing assistance. Is there an appeals process?

Yes. Please see the appeals policy for more information.

Can I apply for assistance more than once?

Yes, you can submit an additional request for assistance if you have new, eligible, unpaid housing bills. At this time, there is not a limit on the number of times you may apply. Households will need to provide income documentation with every new reapplication. 
 
Please note that you can request assistance for more than one eligible housing-related expense in a single application.

What information and documentation will I need to provide in order for my application to be approved?

You will be asked to provide the following information:
  • Personal identification number from one of the following:
    • Driver’s license/State ID
    • Passport Number (does not have to be limited to US passports)
    • Social Security Number
    • Tribal Identification Number
    • Alien Registration Number
    • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • Other: Please identify what form of identification you are providing
    • If you do not have an ID, you will check the box "I do not have an ID."
  • Verification of balance owed (utility bill, past due rent/mortgage bill, etc.)
  • Contact information for the person or business to be paid (landlord, mortgage company, utility company, etc.)
  • Proof of your total gross income from the prior four weeks
Personal identification documents do not need to be submitted. For all other documents, you will be able to scan or take a photo to upload the required documentation into the online application form. If you prefer to provide paper copies, please work with your local administrator. If you are not able to provide the required forms of documentation, you may be able to discuss alternatives with your selected local administrator.  

Can a landlord apply for assistance on behalf of a tenant that owes past rent?

No. Tenants need to directly apply for their past due rent. If the housing assistance application is approved, payments will be made directly to the landlord. Landlords are encouraged to share information about this program and help provide the necessary documentation for a household to complete an application.

Do I have to participate in any mandatory programs to receive this assistance?

There are no mandatory programs that you must participate in in order to receive this assistance.

Do I have go through Coordinated Entry, the statewide system for homelessness prevention and assistance resources, to apply for this housing assistance?

You do not need to go through Coordinated Entry to apply for this funding.

If I apply for and receive this housing assistance, will it affect my Coordinated Entry status?

Applying for this housing assistance will not impact your Coordinated Entry status.

I don't qualify for this program but I still need help paying my rent or mortgage. Where can I look for help?

Who should I contact if I have more questions about the program?

Call 211 (Toll Free: 1.800.543.7709; Local: 651.291.0211). Minnesota Housing staff are not answering calls or responding to questions about this program. Please call 211 with all questions about the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program.