- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 6, 2021

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana has a new program to provide rental assistance for people who have lost income and are at risk of housing instability due to the pandemic, Gov. Greg Gianforte said Tuesday.

The Legislature has appropriated $17 million in federal funding for the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program. State officials estimate it will help about 8,000 renters stay in their homes.

“The last year has brought real, serious challenges to hardworking Montana families through no fault of their own,” Gianforte said in a statement. “Emergency rental assistance will help Montanans, who have struggled financially through this pandemic, get back on their feet and remain secure in their homes.”

Gross household income cannot exceed 80% of the area median income for renters to be eligible for the program. For example, income for a family of four in Missoula County cannot exceed $60,150, while income for a family of three in Yellowstone County cannot exceed $57,600.

Renters can receive a monthly maximum of $2,200 for past due and future rent payments, up to $300 for past due and future utilities including gas and electric, and $50 per month for internet. Households can access assistance dating back to April 1, 2020.



Other qualifications include showing that at least one person in the household was eligible for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the pandemic.

Applicants must show proof of a past-due notice or eviction notice or proof of unsafe or unhealthy living conditions. For utility assistance, they must provide their most recent utility bill, or a late notice or shut-off notice.

Landlords will be able to apply on behalf of their renters, but the renter will have to sign the application.

Assistance will be available for a maximum of 15 months and payments will be made directly to landlords or utility companies. Landlords must provide the state with their taxpayer identification number in order to receive payments.

Information is available through the Department of Commerce at housing.mt.gov.

Mortgage assistance for homeowners is not available under this program, the governor’s office said, and this funding is separate from additional housing funds appropriated through the more recent American Rescue Plan Act.

An emergency mortgage and rental assistance program that began in April 2020 paid out $8.4 million to 2,483 landlords and mortgage servicers last year, the Department of Commerce said.

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