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Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
Minnesota – Making Home Affordable options
Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Minnesota homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Minnesota homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.
There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.
Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:
- Lower your monthly mortgage payments with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
- Lower your interest rate with Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
- Check eligibility for principal reduction with Principal Reduction Alternative SM (PRA)
- Get help if currently unemployed with Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)
- Reduce your 2nd mortgage monthly payments with Second Lien Modification Program (2MP)
- Explore your foreclosure alternatives with Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)
- FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP)
HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673 (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.
Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Minnesota
Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA.
It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.
In Minnesota the SNAP is administered by Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides federal grants and oversees the operation of Minnesota SNAP. According to Minnesota Department of Human Services “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help you get the food you need for sound nutrition and well-balanced meals.”
Who is Eligible for Minnesota SNAP Benefits?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Minnesota are based on residency, limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, work requirement and other factors depending on the applicant case. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when using the federal grants to implement SNAP on State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the low‐income local population.
Minnesota Food Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.
Minnesota applicants for SNAP benefits must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- State of Minnesota Resident – U.S. Citizen or qualified non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each household member between 16-59 years old must work, participate in employment and training program, or be registered to work;
- Income Test – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other. See the table with Minnesota food stamp income limits per household size below.
[table id=51 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
Some Minnesota residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs or getting any benefits from programs funded by federal grants. Getting any benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant, or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or getting informational guide, brochure, or informational booklet funded by federal grants can make the applicant for SNAP Benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any TANF-funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible.
Quick Eligibility Check
Minnesota residents interested in food assistance can use this Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool, provided by the Federal Government, to find out if they might be eligible to get Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (Food Stamps). The Screening allows potential applicants for Minnesota food stamps to provide some basic information and determine if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
Using the tool you are notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire, but you still have to make and sign an application at your local County DHS office, which is the authority that can make final determination regarding your case.
What is Maximum Dollar Amount of Minnesota SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
If approved, the Minnesota SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and its monthly net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household. Check below what are the maximum food assistance amounts a Minnesota household can get per month. The SNAP allowed benefits per month are called allotments.
[table id=29 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments
How to Apply for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Minnesota?
Interested in applying for SNAP benefits can apply in person or print the Minnesota Department of Human Services Combined Application Form and fill it out at home. In addition to SNAP, the Combined Application can be used to apply for any of the following Minnesota cash assistance programs:
- Diversionary Work Program (DWP)
- Emergency Assistance (EA)
- General Assistance (GA)
- Group Residential Housing (GRH)
- Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
- Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA)
- Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)
When you get the application, complete the form with all required information, mail or turn it into the local DHS office where you live. You can submit the SNAP application only with your name, address and signature – the DHS office has to accept the application with the current date. However, providing a complete application will result most likely in a quicker eligibility determination.
A DHS county worker has to interview you to decide if you are eligible for benefits. If eligible, you will start receiving SNAP benefits from the date the office received your signed application.
Minnesota SNAP Program has special, simplified application form for elderly SNAP applicants and beneficiaries. Individuals and couple that are age 60 and older and form a household can use SNAP Application for Seniors (DHS-5223), which is simplified one page form. Interviews are still required and may be arranged to be done by phone.
Minnesota residents in need of food assistance can also apply for SNAP Benefits online using ApplyMN web portal.
Minnesota SNAP (Food Stamps) Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
Department of Human Services office worker has to interview you and verify provided information before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP benefits. Minnesota DHS lists examples of information and proofs you may be asked to provide at the interview:
- Valid I.D. showing the name of the applicant – driver’s license, state ID, passport;
- Proof Minnesota residency – state ID, lease agreement;
- Proof of immigration status for all household members applying for benefits;
- Social security numbers for everyone in the household applying for SNAP benefits;
- Proof of all household income – paystubs, pension, unemployment benefits and other income, tax records if self-employed;
- Housing costs – rent or house payment receipt, mortgage, lease, etc.;
- Medical costs prescription and medical bills, etc.; and
- Child support paid for children not living with the applicant(s).
The federal law requires that all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-50 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program, get limits on receiving SNAP benefits to maximum 3 months in a 3-year period.
In Minnesota, all SNAP applicants are automatically registered for work when they sign Combined Application Form. SNAP Benefits recipients who are not exempted for work registration must begin SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Program participation no later than the 1st day of the month after the month SNAP eligibility is approved.
Through its employment related services, the E&T program provides eligible participants with the opportunity to engage in independent job search, on the job training and get work experience and transition to economic independence.
SNAP benefits recipients in Minnesota can be exempted from this provision if they are under 18 or 50 years of age or older, responsible for the care of a child, or incapacitated household member, or medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment, or pregnant. More details on who is exempt from SNAP work registration and employment and training programs can be found by calling: 1-888-711-1151.
Applicants waiting for SNAP benefits approval in Minnesota should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS office. Households getting SNAP (food stamps) benefits must report any changes of their household situation in a period of time determined by the DHS office in order to assure their participation in the Minnesota SNAP.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Approved for Minnesota SNAP benefits applicants get an Electronic Benefit Card (EBT) card. The EBT card can be used like a debit card at any Minnesota food stamps approved grocery stores and farmers markets. Food assistance benefits are deposited into an EBT account of the beneficiary each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.
Benefits are made available from the 4th to the 13th of every month, based on the last digit of the client’s case #:
Case # ends in: 4 = benefits available on the 4th of the month
Case # ends in: 5 = benefits available on the 5th of the month
Case # ends in: 6 = benefits available on the 6th of the month
Case # ends in: 7 = benefits available on the 7th of the month
Case # ends in: 8 = benefits available on the 8th of the month
Case # ends in: 9 = benefits available on the 9th of the month
Case # ends in: 0 = benefits available on the 10th of the month
Case # ends in: 1 = benefits available on the 11th of the month
Case # ends in: 2 = benefits available on the 12th of the month
Case # ends in: 3 = benefits available on the 13th of the month
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Minnesota EBT Customer Service: 1-888-997-2227
How and Where to Use the SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits?
Minnesota SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Minnesota SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Minnesota EBT cards. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any Minnesota grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Check this list of Minnesota food stamp stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.
I Need SNAP Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Assistance Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. Call 1-888-711-1151 for more information on Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).