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Montanans financially impacted by COVID-19 receive emergency funds

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News from the MDC

HELENA — Montana Housing announced on Jan. 5 that more than $30 million in rent and utility assistance has been paid to support Montanans who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were at risk of housing instability. The federally funded assistance is provided by the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

“We’re proud of our caring and dedicated Emergency Rental Assistance team members for helping thousands of Montana families and individuals stay in their homes,” said Montana Department of Commerce Director Scott Osterman. “Among rural states, Montana is a leader in providing assistance to residents financially impacted by the pandemic.  Just last week, we set a new record with more than $580,000 of assistance paid out in one day, which helped 124 Montana families with rent and utilities,” Osterman added.

Launched in April 2021, the program provides financial support to help eligible Montanans pay future and past due rent up to a monthly maximum of $2,200 as well as up to $300 per month for past due and future utilities, including gas and electric, plus $50 per month for internet.

Currently, there are approximately 2,000 applications submitted for assistance under eligibility review.

“I would love to tell my fellow Montanans about how wonderful the rental assistance program has been and how much they have helped me out. Thank you for your time and efforts in helping the Montana community during these hard and trying times. I appreciate each and every one of you,” said a Montana Emergency Rental Assistance Program recipient.

Applicants can check their income eligibility using Montana Housing’s online tool. Other eligibility conditions include:

One or more individuals in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 emergency.

The household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which may include a past due rent notice, eviction notice or unsafe or unhealthy living conditions.

Eligible households can receive assistance for rent and utility bills dating back to April 1, 2020.

“I wanted to take a minute to thank you very much for all of your employees help with this program,” said Kim, a Great Falls property manager. “I have a large number of residents using this program and it has been very beneficial to my residents and the property owners. Thank you again for all the support your team has given my residents and myself.”

The program is funded through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and was appropriated to Montana Housing, a division of the Montana Department of Commerce, by the 2021 Montana Legislature through HB 3 and HB 630.

The Department of Commerce has partnered with the Montana Legal Services Association on the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, a program that provides civil legal assistance for Montanans facing evictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, call 800-666-6899.

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