• 12°

Deadline looms for Minnesotans to seek COVID-19 housing aid

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota residents who have fallen behind on their rent, mortgage or utility payments amid the coronavirus pandemic should apply for state aid before a looming deadline of Monday night, Gov. Tim Walz and other officials urged Thursday.

The COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program has already taken more than 28,000 applications for more than $67 million in aid. About $30 million was left as of Nov. 30, though Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho pointed out that that was before December rent payments started coming due.

Minnesota residents seeking housing aid should call 211 or apply online at 211unitedway.org by 11:59 p.m. Monday, they said.

Katrina Hall, of Albert Lea, said she lost her job in March, like many people did, because of the pandemic, but her rent and utilities were still coming due. She said she was “in a pretty big bind” when she learned about the program.

“I can’t say enough how much this program has meant to me and my family. … It’s really changed my life,” Hall told reporters during the governor’s situation briefing.

The program is part of the state’s broader effort to provide housing stability during the pandemic, using $190 million in state and federal money with additional help from nonprofits. The state also has an eviction moratorium.

“Housing is a public health issue,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said. “And homelessness is a public health issue. Minnesota has faced a housing crisis for a very long time, and the pandemic has only exposed and exacerbated that crisis.”

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 92 new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, the second-highest one-day toll since the pandemic reached the state. The deaths raised the state’s cumulative toll to 3,784 on a day when the U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, far surpassing a one-day national record set last spring. Minnesota’s highest one-day total was 101 cases, reported last Friday, a figure that reflected data from last Wednesday.

The department also reported 6,166 new coronavirus cases to lift the state’s total to 333,626.

Minnesota hospitals were treating 1,770 coronavirus patients as of Wednesday, including 376 patients in intensive care, and many hospitals were running close to capacity between their COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. The number of Americans in the hospital with the virus nationwide on Thursday passed 100,000 for the first time.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program on Thursday reported its first COVID-19 death, a client in the program’s Moose Lake facility who died Tuesday.

There are currently 18 active cases of COVID-19 in the program’s Moose Lake and St. Peter facilities, according to the Department of Human Services.

They house nearly 740 sex offenders who were civilly committed to the secure treatment program after completing their prison sentences. It’s separate from the state prison system, which has recorded 3,106 coronavirus cases and five deaths.