Brooklyn Park Nonprofit Makes Plea for Emergency Rental Assistance
A Brooklyn Park nonprofit is urging lawmakers to pass emergency funds to keep a state rental assistance program up and running. RentHelpMN abruptly closed in January when it ran out of money.
African, Career, Education & Resource (ACER), Inc. contracted with the state’s Housing Finance Agency, which created RentHelpMN.
The state rental assistance program started during the pandemic to help those who lost employment income, particularly in the restaurant, retail and hospitality sectors. The Brooklyn Park nonprofit says it continues to see “a great need.”
“We have helped thousands of tenants toward this process, and we know we’re one of the partners receiving a lot of calls,” said Nelima Sitati Munene with ACER, Inc.
Sitati Munene says that more than 60 percent of tenants in Brooklyn Park are “housing-cost burdened.” She says she’s heard from long-time renters who are now experiencing non-renewals of their leases and evictions.
“We need to act to quickly,” said Sitati Munene.
ACER, the Housing Justice Center and the Minnesota Housing Partnership are among those pushing for lawmakers to extend the RentHelpMN program until at least June 1. That’s the date when eviction protections for tenants with pending rental assistance applications will end.
The bill, House File 3667, would provide $300 million in funds. It would reimburse landlords for missed payments and help tenants avoid evictions. The funds would come out of the state’s surplus, which rose Monday to $9.25 billion.
“Housing costs are typically the biggest expense Minnesota families have, comprising 30-50% of a family’s household budget,” said Anne Mavity, executive director of Minnesota Housing Partnership. “The best way to invest in Minnesota families is by investing in housing.”