Greater Twin Cities United Way Vertical Logo Blue

211 Resource Helpline Expands to Help Minnesotans Access $100 Million in Housing Assistance

A 211 Resource Helpline Community Resource Specialist is smiling while looking off in the distance

James Collins


On Aug. 24, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) announced the launch of the new $100 million COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, which provides housing assistance payments to prevent homelessness for eligible renters and homeowners.

Greater Twin Cities United Way and our partners helped advocate for this emergency funding earlier this summer, in part by leveraging our 211 Resource Helpline data to underscore the unprecedented housing assistance needs that were arising because of the pandemic. Minnesota’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program is funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and is designed to cover expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities or other past-due housing-related expenses.

211 Expansion

Our 211 resource specialists provide nearly 460,000 referrals to critical services for people in need every year. Because of our existing infrastructure and expertise, MHFA selected United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline to be the point of contact for people seeking these housing resources.

Through a contract from MHFA, United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline has expanded to support Minnesotans seeking to apply for these funds. To support this service, we’ve engaged over 30 additional call center staff who are helping streamline access to these housing resources for interested callers, which is important because housing services can be very difficult to access.

By serving as the go-place to get started, 211 is making these services easier for our neighbors to access as well as easing the burden on agencies providing these services. As of Aug. 26, two days after launching the program, our 211 team has already handled almost 2,000 calls.

How to Apply

Minnesotans interested in applying for housing assistance through the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program can call 211, text "MNRENT" or “MNHOME” to 898-211, or go online to Once the process begins, applicants can track their status online.

About the Author

James Collins is Senior Director of the 211 Resource Helpline and Suicide Prevention Lifeline Services. He leads Minnesota’s leading social services statewide information and referral and mental program; provided critical social services referrals to 450,000+ people annually. James has a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Carlson School of Management and a Masters in Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Sign up for news, updates and opportunities to fuel change in our community.

* indicates required

You are signing up for updates about how your gift is fueling change in the community.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices.

magnifier linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram