Calls flood 2-1-1 in Minnesota for COVID aid program

Requests for rent and mortgage assistance in Minnesota more than doubled when COVID-19 hit, then doubled AGAIN last month when the state launched a new aid program. Minnesota’s COVID Housing Assistance Program uses $100 million in federal CARES Act funding to help pay rent, mortgage and utility bills for lower income residents who fell behind due to COVID-related illness or unemployment. United Way 2-1-1 is the entry point for the program, and began screening applicants for eligibility in late August. By September, 2-1-1 was receiving well over 500 requests per day. Average daily requests for rent and mortgage assistance rose 120% from August to September (top chart) and average daily requests for utility payment assistance increased 235% in the same time period (bottom chart). While 2-1-1s can be an excellent barometer of community needs, the Minnesota COVID Housing Assistance Program is a reminder that many people may not call 2-1-1 for help without specific programs that point them there. Data on 2-1-1 requests come from 2-1-1 Counts Minnesota, a daily dashboard tracking requests for help from across the state. Mouse over each bar in the charts to see the number of requests daily for rent, mortgage and utility assistance.

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