Minneapolis to provide supplemental aid

This article was written by Connor Cummiskey

Minneapolis has set aside over $5 million in gap funding to help residents and businesses. $3 million of that will go specifically to housing assistance.

“COVID-19 has changed nearly every facet of our lives, but it hasn’t changed City leadership’s core conviction that housing is a right,” said Mayor Jacob Frey during an April 4 council meeting.

The housing assistance includes $2 million in emergency housing payments for low-income residents who have lost income due to the pandemic. The remaining $1 million will be provided through the Stable Homes Stable School initiative.

Households will be eligible for up to $1,500 in aid through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program, depending on their needs and eligibility for other resources. In some cases households may be able to receive up to $2,000 under extraordinary circumstances. Eligible expenses include rent payments, including rent in arrears and rent due within 15 days, as well as utility payments. The money will go directly to the landlord or utility company, according to the city website.

To be eligible a family must live in Minneapolis, have incomes that are 30% of the average monthly income or below, and lost significant income due to the pandemic. The City will not consider immigration or documentation status of a family when determining eligibility.

Income eligibility is set at $24,000 for household of two and $30,000 for a household of four, according to the Minneapolis City website.

For households experiencing homelessness or instability, the City is using up to $1 million to expand the Housing Stability Fund under the Stable Homes Stable Schools program. Included in that is an expansion of the program to all 39 of the City’s public elementary schools.

Residents may receive up to $1,500 in assistance, and in some cases as high as $2,000. Funds may go to rent, utilities and other stability-related costs. To be eligible a family must have at least one child enrolled in an elementary school and have incomes 50% or less of the average monthly income – which is $50,000 for a family of four.

The money will be managed through the Tenant Resource Center, a collaboration aimed at supporting renters. As of press time residents were able to apply beginning mid-April.

To maintain affordable housing in the City, Minneapolis’ nonprofit the Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing Program has $3 million to purchase property. The program is designed to prevent investors from purchasing property at a bargain during the economic downturn.

“We saw this back in 2008 and 2009, speculators came in, they scooped up foreclosed upon properties, they scooped up properties that were vulnerable that had vulnerable tenants in them,” Frey said.

Homeowners are able to contact the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, which provides free advisers to guide them through relief options. Minneapolis provides $275,000 to the center, according to the website. To contact the center go to hocmn.org.

Business relief

Small businesses also are eligible for some relief. The City has $2.2 million in gap funding to start a new Small Business Debt-free Fund. Companies with 20 employees or fewer, and self-employed residents are eligible. The program contains two parts: a new no-interest loan program and changes to the 2% Participation Loan program.

Small businesses may receive a forgivable no-interest loan in increments of $5,000 or $10,000, depending on need. The application deadline was April 20.

The revamped Participation Loan program is changing from 2% interest to 0% interest rates and is expanding the eligible expenses to include working capital costs. Businesses across Minneapolis may receive up to $50,000 or $75,000 depending on location to be matched by the lending partner, according to the City.

Revamped loans are available to borrowers who can demonstrate a financial impact from the pandemic, have 20 or fewer employees, or $1 million or less in annual revenue. Self-employed residents also are eligible. Terms of the loans include up to 10 years matched by the lending partner, zero interest on the City’s portion, deferred payments for up to the first six months, and amortized principal and interest thereafter.

For loans administered by the City before the pandemic, home buyers and businesses will receive six months of forbearance and deferred payments, for loans under $200,000.

Minneapolis also is infusing $300,000 into the Business Technical Assistance Program. Another $100,000 will be invested into the Twin Cities Hospitality Fund, which provides micro-grants to low-wealth employees in the hospitality and service industry, according to the City website.

Individuals and businesses may also donate to the City to help with gap funding. For more info on resources, or to consider donations of money and supplies, go to ci.minneapolis.mn.us/coronavirus. Residents also can email the City with their health-related questions at covid19@minneapolismn.gov.