Governor Walz ordered the eviction moratorium in March 2020 to help people stay safe in their homes and combat the spread of COVID-19. Throughout the past year, the eviction moratorium has helped saved countless lives and prevented further community spread of the virus. Additionally, we know the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to impact Minnesota households and many are now faced with potential eviction as the end of the moratorium is debated.
On June 9th, Homes for All partner HOME Line participated in a press conference at the State Capitol to discuss the critical importance of an end or "off-ramp" of the eviction suspension to have meaningful protections—so tenants know about assistance and it can arrive in time.
They were joined by housing advocates, landlords, legislators and local policymakers—and they shared examples of the trauma their clients are facing. All of the following stories below are from tenants who spoke to HOME Line in the past week & who volunteered to share their experiences:
Crystal from Rochester has a health condition that puts her significantly more at risk from COVID. Everyday she begins her job search at 4:30am, trying to find some way to cover the past 3 months of rent that's piled up. She no longer qualifies for unemployment, and is waiting on the rental assistance money desperately.
Brittany from Mound had always paid rent on time, but her life has been "pure chaos" since her husband lost his job in November due to COVID. On June 1st, the landlord showed up with a new group of tenants ready to move in. While she was able to get them to leave, she is worried about what her landlord will try next. To prevent her and her three kids from becoming homeless because of forces completely outside of their control, she applied for rental assistance back in April and is waiting.
Sierra from Mankato got COVID In December, missed work, and her compensation was a third of what she usually makes. Her company wasn't taking the necessary precautions and this compromised Sierra's employment. Sierra is back to work now and applied for rental assistance a month and a half ago. Yesterday her landlord sent a text saying she "has seven days to pay up or they’ll take the keys." She is very frightened and unsure of what her landlord might do.
Jon from Fergus Falls is a single father whose daughter, as a result of quarantines from school, had to be at home full-time. That meant he had to take time off of work to be with her, which led to him losing his job, making it impossible to pay rent. Every day Jon was stressed wondering if that was the month the Executive Orders would end and he would get evicted. Now, because he’s still behind, his landlord is threatening to use the current “family move-in” exception to remove them. After giving Jon notice to move out in July, the landlord refuses to have any conversations about what is going on.
Lutisha and Deandre in St. Paul are behind on rent and applied for rental assistance in April. Although their landlord has been fairly sympathetic of their situation, the landlord's tone is starting to change. Recently, their landlord has demanded that they pay their rent by June 10th or the landlord will have to "take legal action." Lutisha is worried about being evicted before the rental assistance program can pay her landlord.
Jessica from Faribault is a participant in the Section 8 voucher program. If she is evicted, she would lose that assistance. She has two kids under the age of 10, who have been distance learning for most of the pandemic, and she's had to give up work opportunities to stay home and teach them. She has an auto-immune disorder, and is at more risk from COVID. She's been waiting for 3 months for word back from her rental assistance application, and is getting increasingly worried that she's going to lose her voucher even if the money comes through.
Carrie from St. Paul has lived at her current home for 15 years. Living at that house has really helped to stabilize her life, raise her kids as a single mother, and start a successful career. She is a massage therapist and has been in that business for over a decade. Carrie worked for the same employer in downtown Minneapolis for over 6 years, until she was laid off because of the pandemic and civil unrest. She applied for rental assistance when it first opened, and did not expect to have to wait so long. The amount that she owes to her landlord keeps increasing as she waits. Her landlord just recently increased the rent to make up for the lost income during the pandemic. This could cause Carrie to have to move away from the home she has lived in for 15 years and has been so vital to her success in life.
We want to thank these tenants for sharing about their housing concerns.
Evictions and displacement simply shouldn’t happen when there are $672 million dollars lined up to prevent it. These tenants and thousands more are relying on the legislature to do the right thing, and they’re not alone landlords, the courts, and other housing stakeholders are relying on a predictable, measured off-ramp. That’s why the focus of legislation to end the suspension cannot be on when evictions begin, but rather when assistance can easily be secured to keep renters housed.
This can be done by requiring proper notice provided by landlords to tenants regarding rent arrears & available assistance, while implementing a process preventing displacement for those who might be eligible but who are unaware, trying to apply, or have applied and are waiting.
If you need help covering your rent and utilities, please apply at RentHelpMN.org, it is imperative that you get an application in as soon as possible.
As always if you have questions about your rights as a renter in MN, call/email HOME Line’s hotline: