St. Paul announces $300-a-month rent subsidy for struggling families

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the Families First Housing Pilot Program Tuesday.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announced a program Tuesday aimed at keeping kids in school by promoting stable housing.

The Families First Housing Pilot Program provides a rent subsidy of $300-per-month to 250 eligible families with at least one student in St. Paul Public Schools grades Pre-K to third grade.

Applicants must have a referral from designated school staff and meet other requirements, including not receiving any other form of housing subsidy, and having a household income below 30 percent of the area median,. The household must also pay more than 40 percent of that income toward rent.

"Keeping students in their homes and their schools is vital for their future success," said Joe Gothard, Saint Paul Public Schools superintendent, on Tuesday. "I am pleased the City of Saint Paul heard the needs in our schools and was a willing and able partner to respond to those needs."

The program’s $3 million funding is set to last 3 years, with the money coming from the Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s Housing Trust Fund, with support from the Family Housing Fund, McKnight Foundation, the Pohlad Foundation and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

Minneapolis passed similar program last year

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council passed a similar program in the 2019 budget. The Stable Homes, Stable Schools program funds rental assistance through the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.

Property owners can also participate in the program by providing discounted rental units to qualifying families, with MPHA paying the difference.

The program also requires families with a Minneapolis Public Schools student to make below 30 percent of the area median income. Stable Homes, Stable Schools is anticipated to reach 320 families over three years.

According to a 2018 study from Wilder Research, homelessness in the seven county Twin Cities area has increased by 9 percent since 2015. 

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