Rent help in Minnesota: Applications close Friday night, $450M ready to distribute

The mission of Golden Valley-based nonprofit PRISM is to provide social services and connections that empower people. One of the ways that mission is manifested is through their housing program.

They've been helping people apply for Rent Help MN, the state's COVID-19 rental assistance program, for more than a year. Each week, they receive between 50 and 80 calls about it. 

On Tuesday, program director Allysen Hoberg learned the program would be closing to new and re-applications come Friday night. 

"It was a shock for us. We didn't know what it meant. We didn't know what it meant for the applications that are currently in the system... it's just such a short notice for something this crucial to happen," said Hoberg. 

They are now scrambling to get everything submitted. 

"We are putting a lot of our other work on hold, the other work we are doing, to make sure to make sure that in the next day and a half, all of these applications that are in will actually be counted," said Hoberg. 

People who are behind on their rent or utilities have until the end of the week to apply for assistance from the RentHelpMN program.

In all, the program will distribute an estimated $450 million in federal COVID-19 funds to Minnesotans unable to pay rent or utilities. 

Deputy Housing Commissioner Rachel Robinson says January of 2022 will surpass May 2021 as the highest application month.

"The deadline came in January as we were looking at the funds starting to run out much faster than we would have thought," said Robinson.  "We know in the affordable housing world, a lot of people loose seasonal hours this time of year, it's often a month it's very difficult to make rent."

Those at PRISM worry what the end of this program will mean for the future. 

"If there's not more funding allocated towards this, we are going to have a huge housing crisis in a few months," said Hoberg. 

The deadline for new and re-applications to Rent Help MN is Friday night at 9 p.m.

Any incomplete applications will not be considered. 

MORE: RentHelpMN assistance program applications due Friday