Struggling with Housing Costs? Financial Aid is Available
Financial assistance is available for Minnesotans struggling to pay their rent, mortgage or other housing costs because of the pandemic. The COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) will provide payments to eligible Minnesota renters and homeowners to help prevent eviction, homelessness and housing instability.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota’s (LSS) Financial Counseling service has been chosen to be an administrator of the CHAP program. LSS employees will review applications, verify eligibility and process payments for eligible expenses. These payments will be made directly to the entity that is owed the funds.
Who is Eligible and What is Covered
To qualify for assistance, Minnesota households must meet all the following criteria:
- Be a Minnesota resident.
- Have income at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines. Those at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines will receive priority.
- Have an eligible expense that was incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 and is past due.
- Be unable to make one or more payments owed because of the public health emergency due to unemployment, illness or another COVID-19 related issue.
The CHAP program will pay for past-due housing expenses such as:
- Mortgage payments
- Rent payments
- Contract for deed payments
- Manufactured home park lot rents and payments
- Utility payments
- Homeowners association fees
- Homeowners insurance
Some Minnesota homeowners may not qualify if they have a federally-backed mortgage that falls under the provisions of the federal CARES Act. Those homeowners will have to contact their mortgage servicer to obtain a special forbearance, loan modification or set up a repayment plan.
Who to Contact for Help
For more on the CHAP program, eligibility and coverage:
- Visit www.211unitedway.org
- Call 211 (Toll Free: 1.800.543.7709; Twin Cities: 651.291.0211)
- Text “MNRENT” to 898-211
The 211 helpline is open 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Multilingual staff are available to answer questions about the program.
If you are a homeowner in need of assistance, but do not qualify for relief under CHAP, LSS Financial Counseling also offers free foreclosure prevention counseling. In addition, we provide free, confidential and non-judgmental support if you are experiencing financial challenges in addition to paying your housing costs. Call 888.577.2227 or get all your support online.
Sandi Kleist, Housing Counseling Program Director for LSS Financial Counseling, authored this blog post.