Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Howard (DFL)

Back to profile

Legislators and Housing Advocates Call for Rental Assistance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

St. Paul, MN - Today, the legislative leaders of the House Housing Policy and Finance Division joined housing advocates and stakeholders in calling for $100 million in rental assistance to address the struggles faced by renters, landlords, and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Many Minnesotans are one paycheck away from being unable to pay their rent, and that was the case before COVID-19,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL - St. Paul) chair of the House Housing Policy and Finance Division. “Though Minnesotans are unable to be evicted during the pandemic, with thousands unemployed, we need to make sure there isn’t a backlog of debt for those that are unable to pay their rent. We can help solve that by delivering rental assistance to those that need it right now.”

Governor Walz issued an executive order that halts evictions, but that order does not cancel rent. With more than 250,000 Minnesotans facing unemployment, renters and housing providers are concerned about their financial future. During the virtual press conference, legislators and housing experts discussed the challenges facing Minnesotans and the need for direct rental assistance. 

“Minnesotans across the state are feeling stress and uncertainty today because rent is due and they don’t know how they can keep up,” said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), vice chair of the House Housing Policy and Finance Division. “Minnesotans can’t stay home and stay safe unless they can afford the roof over their head. It is vitally important the legislature take urgent action to provide housing assistance to Minnesotans. In doing so, we are providing relief to homeowners, renters, small business owners and landlords. We are all in this together.”

With unprecedented levels of unemployment as a result of the measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, advocates are worried the actions taken by the state won’t be enough to ensure Minnesotans remain physically and financially healthy, citing the need for more Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP) funds. Utilizing FHPAP for rental assistance will allow the legislature to use existing providers that serve all 87 counties, delivering needed housing assistance to Minnesotans and landlords efficiently and quickly. 

“When staying home is the best way to protect ourselves against COVID-19, we need to ensure that all Minnesotans have a home or safe place to stay,” said Allison Streich, Homes for All Co-Chair. “Last week the legislature passed crucial funding to help support shelters, outreach workers and those experiencing homelessness combat COVID-19, but we now need the legislature to step up and pass $100 million in FHPAP funding to help the thousands of households struggling to maintain their housing.”

A video recording of today’s press conference can be found here