The city of Minneapolis received more than 7,800 applications for help covering rent and utilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

That's roughly five times the number of families the city initially said it hoped to serve when it unveiled its new Gap Funding Plan.

The city is still working to process requests that were submitted by voice mail before the deadline on noon Monday, so the number will likely grow.

"We will complete our review as quickly and accurately as we can as we know our applicants have an immediate need," said Sarah McKenzie, a spokeswoman for the city. "Given the amount of applications to review, applicants should expect to hear from us next week regarding next steps."

The city expects to begin giving out the first payments in early May, and will continue "on an ongoing basis until all applications have been processed and available funding has been expended," McKenzie said.

The Gap Funding Plan included $3 million to help low income families with rent. Of that, $2 million is being provided in a new Emergency Housing Assistance Program. Another $1 million was redirected within the Stable Homes Stable School Program to help families with children enrolled in a Minneapolis public elementary school.

With demand far surpassing the amount of money, the Stable Homes Stable Schools Program will give priority to families making 30% or less of the area median income, or roughly $27,000 for a family of three. To determine who gets money through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program, the city will randomly assign each eligible family a number that will determine the order in which people get aid.

Most of the families will get $1,500, while some large families could get $2,000 in limited circumstances, the city has said.

The money will be given directly to the families' landlords or utility companies. It can be used for past rent, rent due within 15 days or utility bills.

Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994