The following is a reprint of a news story originally run by Public News Service.

Mike Moen, Producer
May 31, 2022

ST, PAUL, Minn. – Higher consumer costs and expired pandemic protections are putting more Minnesotans on the brink of losing their homes. Some areas are seeing higher foreclosure activity than others, renewing calls for those behind on their payments to seek help.

According to this month’s Census Household Pulse Survey data, 24% of Minnesota adults faced the likelihood of eviction or foreclosure, up from 18% earlier this spring.

Janelle Bennett, program Coordinator for West Central Minnesota Communities Action in Grant County, said they are seeing more pre-foreclosure notices sent to individuals the office follows up with.

“The ones I have received so far have been definitely related to COVID, either losing their job or cutting back on hours and just losing that income,” Bennett explained.

While the job market has rebounded, she said disabilities from COVID prevent some from regaining their hours. Her area is not alone. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis recently reported nearly 10 rural Minnesota counties had foreclosure rates of at least 1%.

The Minnesota Homeownership Center said through its website, those behind can look over a network of nonprofits and community organizations with advisers who provide free counseling.

Julie Gugin, president of the Center, said it is not surprising to see the trends take hold as the pandemic lurches forward. She noted there are mounting health care costs for some people who had little or no paid time off, making it harder to be financially covered if they were forced to miss work.

“It is a waterfall effect that health crises, as we are experiencing with COVID, can have lasting impacts on people’s abilities to maintain their homes,” Gugin pointed out.

As for financial assistance, she noted larger counties can create their own aid programs because they get more federal relief to distribute, though it is not always the case for smaller regions.

Gugin added rural homeowners can turn to statewide initiatives, such as the Home-Help MN COVID Assistance Fund. The application deadline expires on June 17. Those eligible can receive aid if their hardship is COVID-related, but officials warned what’s left likely will not meet the demand seen around the state.

To be connected with a free foreclosure prevention advisor, call the Minnesota Homeownership Center at 651-659-9336 or click here.