GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Commerce’s Housing Division is urging people to prepare to take advantage of a new rental assistance program. As of Thursday, the program was still being developed but was expected to start sometime in the spring, and meant to help people who have been impacted by the pandemic.
The state received $200 million from the federal government for the program.
"We'll be asking renters to provide documentation of their income as well as documentation of their instability. That could be in the form of a late notice from their landlord or a past-due utility bill,” said Cheryl Cohen, Housing Division Administrator.
The website for the program states:
The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program will provide rent and utility assistance to Montanans who have been financially impacted, directly or indirectly, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renters will be able to apply directly for rent and utility assistance, and landlords will be able to apply on behalf of renters with the renter’s co-signature and required documentation.
Renters will need to provide income documentation to verify program eligibility. To streamline the application review process, we recommend renters file their 2020 tax return now and have that document available to submit when the program opens for applications.
The site also states that in order to be eligible for rental or utility assistance:
- Your household income cannot exceed 80 percent of the area median income. Click here to check the area median income where you live.
- You or someone in your household must have experienced income loss, financial hardship, qualified for unemployment benefits, or incurred significant costs due directly or indirectly to COVID-19
- Be able to show that you are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. For example, if you have received a past due rent notice or eviction notice or if you are experiencing unsafe or unhealthy living conditions.
As of Thursday, the state had set aside $17 million of the $200 million to be used for the program and was working on a bill, Cohen said, to allocate more of the $200 million.