Minnesota must immediately provide rental assistance to workers displaced by COVID-19
On Monday, Governor Tim Walz announced Executive Order 20-14 suspending evictions. Eviction moratoriums are a great first step to preventing homelessness, but much more is needed. State leaders must provide rental assistance of at least $100 million through the Family Homeless Prevention Assistance Program (FHPAP) or another rental assistance program.
According to data analysis by Minnesota Housing Partnership, many of the workers who are out of work due to COVID-19 shutdowns will experience dire financial outcomes. Workers with unemployment insurance will receive half their typical earnings. For food service, that means an income of $1,032 a month against an average Minnesota rent of $969. On average, food service workers are left with $63 after paying rent. These workers won’t be able to pay for food, medicine, and other household needs.
For specific food service jobs such as bartenders, waiters, and food counter workers, unemployment insurance will not be enough to even cover the rent. This affects an estimated 81,620 Minnesotans.
Members of the media can download a full analysis of the housing impacts of these most affected workers here.
Rental assistance is critical for supporting low-wage workers unable to pay rent, and ensuring stability in the rental market.
That same rental assistance would provide critical operating income to affordable housing providers, and helps sustain the housing system. Most housing providers have only a few months operating reserve, and even that has restrictions on spend-down.They cannot maintain basic housing operations without some type of revenue stream.
The rental income will help housing providers cover continued safe operations and additional costs of maintaining affordable housing including with enhanced cleaning and emergency repairs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lack of rental assistance will have ripple effects throughout Minnesota,” said Anne Mavity, executive director of Minnesota Housing Partnership. “Even with an eviction moratorium, past-due rent will build for people out of work which just shifts this problem to a month or two from now. We need housing supports and we need them right now.”
“We’re calling on the Legislature and Governor Walz to immediately pass and sign into law $100 million in rental assistance.”