The city of Duluth and community partners are reminding the public that financial support is available for anyone struggling to pay rent and utility bills.

"There is plenty of money," Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said. "There is no judgment. This is what we do as a state and as a country as we do our best to take care of each other."

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.
Contributed / city of Duluth
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. Contributed / city of Duluth

Minnesota's eviction moratorium ended in June, meaning that tenants who are behind on rent and don't seek assistance can be evicted. Landlords can only encourage their tenants struggling to make payment to apply for assistance; they cannot apply on their tenants‘ behalf.

The assistance is available through RentHelpMN, a Minnesota program that was created to help mitigate financial hardships during the pandemic. Staff with One Roof Community Housing and the American Indian Community Housing Organization, both in Duluth, are helping renters access the financial support, whether they need it for past or future rental payments or utilities.

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Call One Roof Community Housing at 218-727-5372 or AICHO at 218-722-7225 for assistance accessing RentHelpMN.

"This program has taken some time to get the funding out to the landlords and to provide that relief," AICHO's rental program coordinator, Carmen Volk, said. "However, it is working."

The state paid more than $100 million in rental assistance to Minnesotans in October, Volk said.

Noah Hobbs with One Roof Community Housing said in order to complete an application, renters will need to provide proof of 60 days of income, past-due rent statements, past-due utility bills and a form of identification that the government accepts.

The quickest way to go through the application process is to show up at One Roof, 12 E. Fourth St., Duluth.

In addition to connecting people to rental assistance, AICHO will also continue its emergency food distribution until June, AICHO Director of Programming Daryl Olson said.

"If there are any resources or supports that community members need, please don't hesitate to reach out to AICHO and ask for those services as well," Olson said.

Through Legal Aid of Northeastern Minnesota free legal services are also available to eligible tenants who are facing eviction or living in unsafe conditions. Call 218-623-8100 to find if you're eligible for free aid.

"Early legal assistance, early legal advice is key to help people ensure they're going to be safe in their homes," Dori Streit of Legal Aid said.

"(When) you're underwater on something, it can just be so difficult to reach up through the current and ask for the help you need," Larson said. "And yet it's more important than ever that people do that."