News: County commits almost $74M to equitable housing relief and recovery activities

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Hennepin County Minnesota


Contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-910-9111


County commits almost $74M to equitable housing relief and recovery activities

Funds will go toward long-term affordable housing, support for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of eviction

On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners voted to allocate $73.7 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to support short- and long-term pandemic recovery efforts that will increase affordable housing, reduce homelessness and support renters at risk of eviction.

These investments will leverage learnings from Hennepin County’s pandemic response, positioning our communities to emerge stronger than we were when we entered this crisis.

“This is a rare opportunity to not only address the continuing disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income and communities of color, but also to position the county and communities to address disparities in housing and homelessness that long-preceded the pandemic — ultimately to come out of the pandemic even stronger than we went into it.” said Hennepin County Commissioner and Board Chair Marion Greene.

County departments will have until the end of 2026 to spend the American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars.


$46 million for housing recovery

Funding will support strategies to build stronger communities through investments in housing and neighborhoods, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including low-income and communities of color.

With this funding, Hennepin County will:

  • Increase affordable housing production: Immediately increase affordable multifamily housing production by providing financing that will help key affordable housing development projects open more quickly.
  • Invest in Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing: Finance the preservation of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) and address a backlog of deferred rehab and maintenance of NOAH properties
  • Acquire properties: Purchase properties to turn into long-term affordable housing, especially single room occupancy housing for single adults impacted by the pandemic and facing homelessness or housing instability
  • Expand homeownership: Establish new homeownership programs to help people disproportionately impacted by the pandemic build wealth through homeownership

These strategies will help create or preserve approximately 2,000 units of affordable housing and help more than 100 households buy homes.

“The American Rescue Plan offers Minnesota a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dream big on affordable housing. Hennepin County is answering that call with this unprecedented $46 million investment,” said Chris LaTondresse, county commissioner and chair of the county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. “I’ve always said we need a Minnesota Marshall Plan for affordable housing that matches the scale of the problem with public resources equal to the need. This historic investment is Hennepin’s down payment on that plan. It’s also a clarion call for others to join forces to meet the moment. Our residents can’t wait.”

Learn more about Hennepin County’s equitable housing recovery strategies.


$25.5 million for homelessness response

The county board also authorized spending up to $25.5 million in federal ARP funds to support shelter access and operations, to help people avoid homelessness and to help shelters continue to meet CDC public health standards.

With this funding, Hennepin County will:

  • Support shelters: Help fund operations at Avivo Villages and the American Indian Community Development Corporation’s Homeward Bound, a new low-barrier, housing focused emergency shelter launched last winter
  • Keep extended shelter hours: Continue 24/7 operations in shelters, a tool to help meet guests’ health and housing needs
  • Reduce barriers to shelter: Eliminate self-pay contributions
  • Strengthen alternatives to shelter: Help people to leverage community resources that are safe alternatives to emergency shelter during a housing crisis
  • Make shelter safer: Work with emergency homeless shelters and board and lodge settings to make physical improvements and mitigate COVID-19 effects and enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions
  • Prevent unsheltered homelessness: Reverse increases in unsheltered homelessness seen since the start of the pandemic by working with partners to develop a new model for working with people in encampments

The goal of this work is to help an additional 750 people access safe alternatives to shelter each year, provide safe shelter for 5,000 people each year and make the physical facilities safer and more compliant with COVID-19 precautions, and increase homelessness outreach capacity.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to innovate to keep people safe and stable in their housing,” said County Commissioner Angela Conley. “Keeping these systemic improvements in place will improve outcomes for residents, and help us in our ongoing work to keep homelessness brief, rare and nonrecurring.”

Learn more about Hennepin County’s response to homelessness.


$2.2 million to support people at risk of eviction

The board approved up to $2.2 million in federal ARP funds to help people at risk of eviction navigate housing court and get legal and financial help.

Some of Hennepin County’s most vulnerable renters may face eviction as state and federal eviction protections are phased out over the coming months.

Renters will continue to be protected from evictions for nonpayment of rent through June 2022 if they qualify for and have a completed application pending for emergency rent assistance through RentHelpMN or The Zero Balance Project.

To prepare for the end of eviction protections, Hennepin County is providing free legal representation in housing court and continues to help renters apply for emergency rental assistance.

To date, Hennepin County has allocated more than $78 million to COVID-19 emergency rent assistance, and $37 million of that has already been provided to Hennepin County renters.


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