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Rental Funding Applauded, But MN Group Fears More Need is Coming

State officials say they anticipate Minnesota residents in need of new emergency housing assistance will be able to begin applying within the next month. (Adobe Stock)
State officials say they anticipate Minnesota residents in need of new emergency housing assistance will be able to begin applying within the next month. (Adobe Stock)
July 16, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesotans struggling financially during the pandemic will see some more relief in trying to make their housing payments. The governor has announced a new round of assistance, and a key group hopes more long-term fixes are approved.

Earlier this week, Gov. Tim Walz said that $100 million from the federal CARES Act will be distributed to those in need of housing assistance, so long as they meet certain requirements. Anne Mavity, director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, says it's the exact amount they were requesting in emergency aid.

But she says the work shouldn't stop there.

"We had a crisis before COVID happened," says Mavity. "And we are continuing to have one."

Mavity hopes state lawmakers will include affordable-housing funding in a bonding bill currently being negotiated by Legislative leaders. She says the money could help jump-start construction on several thousand units that are simply waiting for the necessary funding.

Both Walz and Mavity cited concerns over extra federal unemployment benefits that are due to expire at the end of July. Mavity says that could create a tidal wave of people not being able to make rent.

She adds that more spikes in novel coronavirus cases will cause additional economic harm as well.

"If we need to close down again," says Mavity, "all those folks that do not have a way to make a living will need support, or they lose housing. "

She says that's why the $100 million will likely be used fairly quickly, and that getting to work on additional solutions could lessen the impact of more renters and homeowners falling behind on their payments.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN