256J.48 Emergency assistance (EA).
Subdivision 1. Emergency financial assistance. County human service agencies shall grant emergency financial assistance to any needy pregnant woman or needy family with a child under the age of 21 who is or was within six months prior to application living with an eligible caregiver relative specified in section 256J.08.
Except for ongoing special diets, emergency assistance is available to a family during one 30-day period in a consecutive 12-month period. A county shall issue assistance for needs that accrue before that 30-day period only when it is necessary to resolve emergencies arising or continuing during the 30-day period of eligibility. When emergency needs continue, a county may issue assistance for up to 30 days beyond the initial 30-day period of eligibility, but only when assistance is authorized during the initial period.
Subd. 1a. Processing emergency applications. Within seven days of receiving the application, or sooner if the immediacy and severity of the situation warrants it, families must be notified in writing whether their application was approved, denied, or pended.
Subd. 2. Eligibility. Notwithstanding other eligibility provisions of this chapter, any family without resources immediately available to meet emergency needs identified in subdivision 3 shall be eligible for an emergency grant under the following conditions:
(1) a family member has resided in this state for at least 30 days;
(2) the family is without resources immediately available to meet emergency needs;
(3) assistance is necessary to avoid destitution or provide emergency shelter arrangements;
(4) the family's destitution or need for shelter or utilities did not arise because the assistance unit is under sanction, the caregiver is disqualified, or the child or relative caregiver refused without good cause under section 256J.57 to accept employment or training for employment in this state or another state; and
(5) at least one child or pregnant woman in the emergency assistance unit meets MFIP citizenship requirements in section 256J.11.
Subd. 3. Emergency needs. Emergency needs are limited to the following:
(a) Rent. A county agency may deny assistance to prevent eviction from rented or leased shelter of an otherwise eligible applicant when the county agency determines that an applicant's anticipated income will not cover continued payment for shelter, subject to conditions in clauses (1) to (3):
(1) a county agency must not deny assistance when an applicant can document that the applicant is unable to locate habitable shelter, unless the county agency can document that one or more habitable shelters are available in the community that will result in at least a 20 percent reduction in monthly expense for shelter and that this shelter will be cost-effective for the applicant;
(2) when no alternative shelter can be identified by either the applicant or the county agency, the county agency shall not deny assistance because anticipated income will not cover rental obligation; and
(3) when cost-effective alternative shelter is identified, the county agency shall issue assistance for moving expenses as provided in paragraph (e).
(b) Definitions. For purposes of paragraph (a), the following definitions apply (1) "metropolitan statistical area" is as defined by the United States Census Bureau; (2) "alternative shelter" includes any shelter that is located within the metropolitan statistical area containing the county and for which the applicant is eligible, provided the applicant does not have to travel more than 20 miles to reach the shelter and has access to transportation to the shelter. Clause (2) does not apply to counties in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan statistical area.
(c) Mortgage and contract for deed arrearages. A county agency shall issue assistance for mortgage or contract for deed arrearages on behalf of an otherwise eligible applicant according to clauses (1) to (4):
(1) assistance for arrearages must be issued only when a home is owned, occupied, and maintained by the applicant;
(2) assistance for arrearages must be issued only when no subsequent foreclosure action is expected within the 12 months following the issuance;
(3) assistance for arrearages must be issued only when an applicant has been refused refinancing through a bank or other lending institution and the amount payable, when combined with any payments made by the applicant, will be accepted by the creditor as full payment of the arrearage;
(4) costs paid by a family which are counted toward the payment requirements in this clause are: principal and interest payments on mortgages or contracts for deed, balloon payments, homeowner's insurance payments, manufactured home lot rental payments, and tax or special assessment payments related to the homestead. Costs which are not counted include closing costs related to the sale or purchase of real property.
To be eligible for assistance for costs specified in clause (4) which are outstanding at the time of foreclosure, an applicant must have paid at least 40 percent of the family's gross income toward these costs in the month of application and the 11-month period immediately preceding the month of application.
When an applicant is eligible under clause (4), a county agency shall issue assistance up to a maximum of four times the MFIP standard of need for a comparable assistance unit.
(d) Damage or utility deposits. A county agency shall issue assistance for damage or utility deposits when necessary to alleviate the emergency. The county may require that assistance paid in the form of a damage deposit, less any amount retained by the landlord to remedy a tenant's default in payment of rent or other funds due to the landlord under a rental agreement, or to restore the premises to the condition at the commencement of the tenancy, ordinary wear and tear excepted, be returned to the county when the individual vacates the premises or be paid to the recipient's new landlord as a vendor payment. The county may require that assistance paid in the form of a utility deposit less any amount retained to satisfy outstanding utility costs be returned to the county when the person vacates the premises, or be paid for the person's new housing unit as a vendor payment. The vendor payment of returned funds shall not be considered a new use of emergency assistance.
(e) Moving expenses. A county agency shall issue assistance for expenses incurred when a family must move to a different shelter according to clauses (1) to (4):
(1) moving expenses include the cost to transport personal property belonging to a family, the cost for utility connection, and the cost for securing different shelter;
(2) moving expenses must be paid only when the county agency determines that a move is cost-effective;
(3) moving expenses must be paid at the request of an applicant, but only when destitution or threatened destitution exists; and
(4) moving expenses must be paid when a county agency denies assistance to prevent an eviction because the county agency has determined that an applicant's anticipated income will not cover continued shelter obligation in paragraph (a).
(f) Home repairs. A county agency shall pay for repairs to the roof, foundation, wiring, heating system, chimney, and water and sewer system of a home that is owned and lived in by an applicant.
The applicant shall document, and the county agency shall verify the need for and method of repair.
The payment must be cost-effective in relation to the overall condition of the home and in relation to the cost and availability of alternative housing.
(g) Utility costs. Assistance for utility costs must be made when an otherwise eligible family has had a termination or is threatened with a termination of municipal water and sewer service, electric, gas or heating fuel service, refuse removal service, or lacks wood when that is the heating source, subject to the conditions in clauses (1) and (2):
(1) a county agency must not issue assistance unless the county agency receives confirmation from the utility provider that assistance combined with payment by the applicant will continue or restore the utility; and
(2) a county agency shall not issue assistance for utility costs unless a family paid at least eight percent of the family's gross income toward utility costs due during the preceding 12 months.
Clauses (1) and (2) must not be construed to prevent the issuance of assistance when a county agency must take immediate and temporary action necessary to protect the life or health of a child.
(h) Special diets. Effective January 1, 1998, a county shall pay for special diets or dietary items for MFIP participants. Persons receiving emergency assistance funds for special diets or dietary items are also eligible to receive emergency assistance for shelter and utility emergencies, if otherwise eligible. The need for special diets or dietary items must be prescribed by a licensed physician. Costs for special diets shall be determined as percentages of the allotment for a one-person household under the Thrifty Food Plan as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture. The types of diets and the percentages of the Thrifty Food Plan that are covered are as follows:
(1) high protein diet, at least 80 grams daily, 25 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(2) controlled protein diet, 40 to 60 grams and requires special products, 100 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(3) controlled protein diet, less than 40 grams and requires special products, 125 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(4) low cholesterol diet, 25 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(5) high residue diet, 20 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(6) pregnancy and lactation diet, 35 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(7) gluten-free diet, 25 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(8) lactose-free diet, 25 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(9) antidumping diet, 15 percent of Thrifty Food Plan;
(10) hypoglycemic diet, 15 percent of Thrifty Food Plan; or
(11) ketogenic diet, 25 percent of Thrifty Food Plan.
Subd. 4. Vendor payments for shelter or utility costs. An ongoing MFIP-S grant may, at county board option, be in the form of vendor payments if application for emergency assistance is for shelter or utility costs.