WASHINGTON, D.C. [5/14/21]—Today U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho led a discussion about the urgent need to prevent evictions for tens of thousands of Minnesota renters who have been hit hard by the pandemic and fallen behind on their rent.
Sen. Smith and Ho were joined by non-profit leaders who are helping connect the growing number of financially-troubled renters with the assistance they need to stay in their homes in the Metro area, Duluth, Willmar, Faribault, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Marshall.
“I’m so grateful for the important work that Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho and all of the housing assistance officials who joined today’s conversation are doing to deliver rental assistance to Minnesotans who have been hurt by the economic fallout from COVID,” said Sen. Smith, Chair of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “Emergency rental assistance has been a priority of mine since the beginning of the pandemic because we know that without a safe, affordable place to live, it’s nearly impossible to stay healthy and financially stable. We also know that COVID-19 has not been the great equalizer. It’s exacerbated the challenges that many low-income communities and communities of color already face. I look forward to working with Minnesota leaders to keep working to provide emergency housing assistance and address the affordable housing crisis.”
“Our field partners have been a tremendous asset in helping Minnesota families work through the application for assistance,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Leimaile Ho. “We’re grateful for their helping getting families the help they need, providing the peace of mind that their housing costs will be covered. We know property managers and owners are counting on us, too.”
In December 2020, Sen. Smith helped pass a bipartisan relief package that secured funding for RentHelpMN. This program delivers rental assistance to people in Minnesota who are having trouble paying rent or utility bills due to the economic downfall from COVID-19. Sen. Smith says that said that an estimated 53,000 Minnesota households are behind on their rent by an average of almost $3,000.
The groups joining the discussion were American Indian Community Housing Organization, the Latino Economic Development Center, the New American Development Center, Pillsbury United Communities and the United Community Action Program.