The Montana Department of Commerce recently announced that more than $10 million in rent and utility assistance has already been paid to support Montanans who have experienced hardships during the pandemic, and with many facing eviction, they say more support is available.

Montana Housing Division Administrator Cheryl Cohen described the support that has been ongoing since April.

“We have a team that's been processing applications since April 5 when the program launched,” said Cohen. “We also have a partnership with Neighborworks Montana and about a dozen partner agencies across the state, including a couple in Missoula that are providing assistance for applicants that may need some additional support to be able to do the online application.”

Cohen provided some statistics on the pending problems for renters in Montana.

“One was a study commissioned by the National State Coalition of Housing Agencies that estimated between 10,000 and 30,000 renters in Montana could be at risk of losing their housing with potentially 10,000 households that are at risk of eviction. This study was effective January of 2021.”

Cohen said those facing eviction do have help available.

“Fortunately, we've been partnering with the Montana Legal Services Association on the Montana eviction intervention projects,” she said. “So households that do have a COVID related hardship can receive assistance, including legal assistance to help them maintain their housing, or make sure that they have proper representation because of all of the complications with the CDC eviction moratorium under the federal government.”

Cohen detailed the monetary investment available to help those struggling with housing costs.

“The program can provide rental assistance up to $2,200 a month, and we can go back as far as April of 2020,” she said. “We're also providing utility assistance, specifically home energy, so for electricity and gas, and we can provide up to $300 per month again, going back to April of 2020, and in the future. “We're also supporting households with $50 a month for their internet because we know with the pandemic and a lot of people working remotely, and that's really a critical service that Montanans need.”

Anyone who desires information and assistance for housing and other costs, click here.

 

READ ON: Here's how to apply for rent relief