On Tuesday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte announced that the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program is taking applications from Montanans who need financial support. Emilie Ritter Saunders is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Department of Commerce and she said this is for Montanans who have lost income and are at risk of housing instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It provides rent, security deposit, internet, and utility assistance to Montanans who have been financially hit by COVID-19 and who are at risk of housing instability,” Saunders said. “It is really easy to apply. Thousands of Montanans will qualify for assistance. The program serves Montanans whose household income doesn’t exceed 80% of the area median income.”

Funded through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and appropriated by the Montana Legislature, this emergency rental assistance will help an estimated 8,000 Montana renters stay in their homes.

According to Saunders, these funds will only be available for a limited amount of time and it is strictly for renters.

“Funds will need to be spent by the end of September,” Saunders said. “Renters can access up to 15 months of assistance. That is for back and future rent, and utility payments. A renter can receive up to $2,200 per month plus a maximum of $50 per month for late fees.  Renters can also access utilities assistance at $300 per month. Renters can apply directly or landlords can apply on behalf of their renters.”

Saunders said folks can apply for assistance online at HOUSING.MT.GOV.

“We have an online application process there that is really easy to use,” Saunders said. “If folks need help, we have 14 partners across the state who are offering phone assistance or in person drop in assistance. There is a place at housing.mt.gov where folks can sign up for one of the appointments if they need help with the application.”

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

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