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Minnesota House approves $50 million in Emergency Rental Assistance

Thursday, March 16, 2023

St. Paul, MN - Today, in the face of skyrocketing evictions and rent increases, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed House File 1440, which delivers $50 million in emergency rental assistance to the state’s Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program. The bill, authored by Rep. Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), Chair of the Housing Committee, passed on a bipartisan vote of 73-50. 

“Every day, everywhere, more Minnesotans are falling into crisis because they cannot afford their home and the problem is only growing. The cost of rent and the number of evictions are skyrocketing and it’s long past time for the legislature to take action to prevent homelessness before it begins for our families and neighbors,” said Rep. Howard. “We’re going to deliver the long-term solutions Minnesota needs to address the housing crisis, but today is about the immediate action families need to keep a roof over their heads.” 

Through much of the pandemic, federal rental assistance allowed Minnesotans to maintain housing stability. Many of those funds dried up in January of 2022, but the economic challenges facing low-income families did not. As a result, Minnesota experienced a skyrocketing eviction rate last year with more than 20,000 filed. Many counties across the state have seen 100% increases in eviction filings over pre-pandemic levels including Pipestone, Grant, Olmstead, Clay, Wadena, Chippewa, Roseau, Jackson and Yellow Medicine County. In the metro area, Hennepin County experienced a 268% increase in families experiencing homelessness, highlighting the immense and growing crisis.  

“All Minnesotans deserve a safe and affordable place that they can call home,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The needs across our state are clear and urgent. While we work to craft our next two-year state budget, it’s important that we act now to provide emergency assistance to Minnesotans who are struggling. I’m grateful to Chair Howard and the members of the Housing Committee for their quick work on this legislation.”

A one-time $50 million investment to FHPAP will provide emergency rental assistance and other housing support to Minnesotans on the verge of a housing crisis. These resources will be administered by counties and social service agencies serving all 87 counties. Utilizing these agencies who are already familiar with the program will allow dollars to flow more quickly, as time is of the essence.  

“House DFLers are committed to ensuring everyone has a safe, healthy, and affordable place to live,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long, “With protections first enacted during the pandemic ending, the bold investments the House passed today will urgently address Minnesota’s rapidly growing housing crisis.”

FHPAP has long been a successful program to prevent homelessness, but has never received funding commensurate with the need. As an example, just between July and December, Clay County had to turn away 77% of all households who requested assistance, more than 1,000 households in total. Clay County experienced a 136% increase in evictions last year compared to pre-pandemic levels.  

Video of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel