Governor requests greater flexibility in ERA fund use to address housing crisis
News from the office of Governor Gianforte
HELENA — On Nov. 15, Governor Greg Gianforte called on Congress for greater flexibility in using Emergency Rental Assistance funds to address Montana’s housing crisis.
In a letter to Montana’s Congressional delegation, Gov. Gianforte wrote, “Demand for housing in Montana is at an all-time-high. In fact, market studies indicate many areas of Montana have a housing vacancy rate of under one percent. Serious challenges we face that are attributable to some degree to the pandemic – from our nation’s fractured supply chains to inflation levels not seen in over a generation to labor shortages – have exacerbated the long-standing problem of available affordable and workforce housing in the State.”
“While Montanans are experiencing housing insecurity due to direct or indirect results of the pandemic, the Law’s restrictive use of ERA funds prevents the State from assisting Montanans with the tens of millions of dollars of remaining ERA funds,” the governor continued. “Therefore, I request Congress provide greater flexibility for the use of ERA funds so Montana and other states with small populations can address more broadly housing insecurity facing our residents.”
The state of Montana received $200 million, the small state allocation, in ERA funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
Since the State launched its ERA program on April 5, 2021, the state has received around 7,000 applications, meeting the Department of Commerce’s projections, and allocated $22.5 million to assist Montanans.
Despite efficiently, effectively, and equitably administering the ERA program to qualifying applicants, Montana is at risk of a claw-back of funds from the federal government due to the law’s narrow, inflexible guidelines.
“With additional flexibility in the ERA program, we can provide relief to Montanans facing housing insecurity by implementing long-term solutions to address the long-standing housing supply shortages and higher housing prices that hardworking Montana families, including those on fixed incomes, face,” Gov. Gianforte said.