UNDATED – Minnesotans struggling to make their rent or mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic have the option to apply for help.

The COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program launched Monday, offering $100 million to cover payments like rent, mortgages and utilities which have become past due because of loss of income.

“Even if you haven’t been able to pay rent dating all the way back to March or April, those are eligible expenses,” explained Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho. “The only thing we’re asking is – if you know you’re not going to be able to pay your rent in September, wait until September to apply, because it needs to be a past due bill – a bill that you haven’t been able to pay. We can’t cut you a check for September’s rent today.”

Ho says they’ve received 5,000 applications since Monday. Applications are read and processed at the local level by 44 different administrators all over the state.

“Part of this application process is selecting who you want your local grant administrator to be,” Ho explained. “Some places in Minnesota have fewer choices. Some places have more. Then, you’ll work with that local grant administrator to finish completing your eligibility information. They need to know who you owe the bill to, how much you owe, and other things that need to be documented.”

“Our administrators have done an incredible job of starting to look at (applications) one by one, and make sure we have all the documentation,” she added. “We want to make sure we send the check to the right place and take care of those past due bills.”

Anyone interested in applying or learning more about the program can call Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline, visiting 211 online, or texting MNRENT or MNHOME to 898-211. The 211 helpline is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The program is funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, authorized by the federal CARES Act.