Montana Emergency Rental Assistance

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program supports Montanans who have experienced financial hardships as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of housing instability.

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

Click here for a step-by-step guide to creating an Okta account required for completing the application.

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The Emergency Rental Assistance program is funded through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and appropriated to Montana Housing by the 67th Montana Legislature HB 3 and HB 630.


ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Household gross income cannot exceed 80 percent of the Area Median Income.

The Emergency Rental Assistance program requires Montana to prioritize assistance for households with incomes less than 50% of Area Median Income, or households with one or more individuals that have not been employed for the 90-day period preceding the date of application.

To ensure the program is assisting with households with incomes at or below 50% of Area Median Income, Montana Housing reviews the annual income of applicants approved for assistance regularly to determine the percentage of households assisted who are between 0-30% of AMI, 30-50% AMI and 50-80% AMI.

Montana Housing has assessed the annual income of applicants assisted from April 5 to June 30, 2021. Through June 30, 2021, a total of 12% of households awarded funds had incomes above 50% of AMI and less than 80%. If after any regular review of the annual incomes of households served, more than 50% of the households assisted are between 50-80% AMI, Montana Housing will adjust program outreach, marketing and administration to ensure the prioritization requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of the Treasury are achieved.

Use the tool below to type in the county where you live and the number of people living in your household to check eligible income limits:

 

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program serves Montanans whose gross household income does not exceed 80 percent of the Area Median Income and who meet the following conditions:

  • One or more individuals in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 emergency
And
  • One or more individuals in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which may include:
    • A past due rent notice or eviction notice
    • A past due utility or utility shut-off notice
    • Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, which may include overcrowding. Montana Housing may request supporting documentation from the household in these situations.

Emergency Rental Assistance may be used for the following:

  1. Rent and past due rent;
  2. Utilities, past due utilities and home energy costs which are separately stated, this includes electricity and gas;
  3. Internet service.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord and utility providers. Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (W-9 information) will be required.


INFORMATION NEEDED TO APPLY

Renters should have the following documents available for an easy application experience:

1. Income documentation

2020 IRS tax return(s)

OR

Two most recent months of income source documentation which may include (as applicable to the household’s income sources):

  • Paystubs for wages earned for the past two months
  • W-2s or other wage statements
  • Most recent Social Security or pension award letter
  • TANF statement
  • Unemployment insurance benefit statement
  • Evidence of child support income for the past two months
  • Self-employment 2020- Schedule C or profit and loss statement
  • Documentation of other income for the past two months

2.  Lease Agreement

If an executed lease agreement is not available, a written attestation from the landlord who can be identified as the verified owner or management agent may be accepted. Landlords can satisfy this requirement by completing the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance online Landlord Verification form.

3. Demonstration of Need

  • Late rent or eviction notice
  • Most recent utility bill, late notice or shut-off notice

3. Landlord Information

  • Landlord email address, if available
  • Landlord phone number

Landlords should have the following documents available:

  • Information on monthly rent, owed rental arrears, owed late fees and/or unpaid security deposit
  • Gather the W-9 information for the appropriate rental property where you have notified a renter of a late payment or sent an eviction notice
  • Landlords can initiate the application on their renter’s behalf, but Montana Housing will need to obtain your renter’s signature and required documentation to determine their eligibility.

DURATION OF ASSISTANCE

  • Assistance will be available for a maximum of 15 months
  • Rental and utility arrears must be provided before any future payments are provided.
  • A single application limits assistance to three months of future payments.
  • Subsequent assistance requests require an applicant to recertify income eligibility every three months, per federal requirements.
  • Assistance may not be paid for rental or utility arrears prior to April 1, 2020.

Mortgage assistance for homeowners is not available under this legislation.


APPLICATION HELP

If you want or need help filling out the application, you can get help two ways:

  1. Schedule an appointment online with one of our application processors. These appointments will occur over the phone:
  2. Get help in person at one of the following locations or request a paper application be mailed to you. Please call the organization closest to you to find out more about their hours of availability. 
Community Organization Address Phone
Billings District 7, HRDC 3124 1st Ave. North, Billings 406.206.2717
Bozeman HRDC of District 9, Inc. 32 S Tracy Ave, Bozeman 406.587.4486
Butte Action, Inc. 25 W Silver St. Butte 406.533.6855
Great Falls Opportunities, Inc. 905 1st Ave N, Great Falls 406.761.0310
Great Falls St Vincent De Paul 426 Central Ave. W, Great Falls 406.761.0870
Kalispell Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana 214 Main St. Kalispell 406.752.6565
Lewistown District 6, HRDC 300 1st Ave. N., Suite 203, Lewistown 406.535.7488
Livingston District 9, HRDC 111 South 2nd St, Livingston 406.333.2537
Missoula District 11, HRC 1801 S Higgins Ave, Missoula 406.728.3710
Missoula Missoula Food Bank & Community Center 1720 Wyoming St. Missoula 406.549.0543

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the program work?

The program provides rent and utility assistance to Montanans who have been financially impacted, directly or indirectly, by the COVID-19 pandemic. Renters can apply directly for rental and utility assistance, and landlords can initiate the application on their renter’s behalf, but Montana Housing will need to obtain the renter’s signature and required documentation to determine their eligibility.

What is Okta?

Okta is the state of Montana’s secure login platform. An Okta account is required to complete the Emergency Rental Assistance program application. Account creation steps are available at HOUSING.MT.GOV on the Emergency Rental Assistance page. If after you’ve registered for an Okta account and are unable to get through the application, log out and log back in.

How much assistance can I receive for my rent or utilities?

A household may receive assistance for past due rent, future rent, past due utility bills, and future utility bills. The maximum per month rent assistance is $2,200 plus a maximum of $50 per month late fees. The maximum per month utility assistance is $300.

How many months can I receive assistance for my rent or utilities?

Eligible households can receive assistance for rent and utilities, including past due dating back to April 2020 and future owed, for up to 12 months. If additional assistance is needed to ensure a household remains stably housed, the program may provide an additional 3 months assistance (for a maximum of 15 months), if funding is available. A single application will assist with prior rent and utilities and not more than 3 months of future payments.

My household was approved and received assistance, but now we need continued assistance for future rent and/or utilities. How do we apply for more assistance?

Previously approved households will be notified about the process to request additional assistance. Please do not submit a new application. Montana Housing is working on this process and additional information will be shared as soon as possible. For continued assistance, Montana Housing must redetermine income eligibility for households who initially qualified based on monthly income (households who did not provide 2020 IRS tax return).

Which utilities are eligible for reimbursement?

Electricity, home heating (i.e., gas, propane, wood) and Internet costs are eligible.

Can I receive assistance for my internet bill?

Yes. The program is also able to provide $50 per month for internet service. Internet service assistance will be paid directly to the household, if eligible.

How long will the assistance be available?

Funds will be available until at least September 30, 2022. 

Who is eligible?

  • Your household income cannot exceed 80 percent of the area median income. Check the area median income where you live using the tool above.
  • 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, eviction notice, late utility or utility shut-off, or if you are experiencing unsafe or unhealthy living conditions.

What types of expenses can the assistance be used for?

Past due rent, future rent, unpaid rental deposits (if the reason for moving to a new unit was directly or indirectly as a result of COVID-19), late fees, past due utilities, and future utilities. Any rental or utility arrears, including late fees, prior to April 1, 2020 are not eligible.

Will the money be sent to me to pay my rent/utilities?

Montana Housing will issue rent and utility assistance payments directly to the landlord, property owner or utility provider. 

Where did the funding come from?

This assistance is available from $200 million in federal funding allocated by Congress to the state of Montana through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and appropriated to the Department of Commerce through the passage of HB 3 and HB 630. 

Can Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) recipients also get assistance for utilities through the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program?

Yes. However, LIEAP recipients cannot receive assistance from both programs for the same utility bill. Applicants will be asked to provide an unpaid utility bill or shutoff notice.    

If I already received assistance from Commerce through the 2020 Emergency Housing Assistance Program, can I also receive Emergency Rental Assistance?

Yes, but will be determined case-by case.

Are Emergency Rental Assistance Grants taxable?

Montana Housing has been advised that grants paid as rental assistance to landlords is considered gross income by the Internal Revenue Service and will be reported on Form 1099-MISC. Montana Housing is unable to provide tax advice. If needed, we encourage grant recipients to work with a Certified Public Accountant.

Are COVID-19 stimulus checks and federal pandemic unemployment benefits counted as income?

No. Income from COVID-19 stimulus checks and the $300/week federal pandemic unemployment insurance are not counted as household income in determining eligibility for the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program.

Will Emergency Rental Assistance cover any rent or utility payments that were due prior to April 2020?

No, rent or utility payments that were due prior to April 1, 2020 are not eligible. Unpaid security deposits corresponding with initial lease agreements effective April 1, 2020 or after are eligible.

If I have a mortgage, can I access the utility assistance portion of the program?

No.

Is there a co-pay requirement for my rent?

No, there is no co-pay for renters to receive rent assistance through the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program.

Can the Emergency Rental Assistance program be used for hotel or motel room costs?

Montanans who need assistance with hotel/motel costs should first contact the Human Resource Development Council near them regarding their eligibility for Emergency Solutions Grant funds. Montana Housing will consider Emergency Rental Assistance for Montanans who are not eligible for Emergency Solutions Grant on a case-by-case basis. An extended stay hotel/motel agreement will be required.

Can households living in government-assisted housing receive Emergency Rental Assistance?

Yes. Households receiving other forms of rental subsidy are eligible to receive Emergency Rental Assistance, but only for the portion of rent that is considered the household’s responsibility. These households will be required to provide a copy of the rent determination letter from the property or agency who is providing the rental subsidy. Households should first report any income loss or financial hardship to their Public Housing Authority or property manager and complete and interim re-examination before Emergency Rental Assistance is provided.

I have a mobile home with monthly lot rent. Is lot rent eligible under this program?

Yes. Applicants with a monthly lot rent or lot lease payment can include that cost in the monthly rent figure in the program application.

I am currently homeless but have found a new rental unit. What kind of documentation do I need for help with a deposit and rent if I don’t have a lease yet?

An executed lease agreement would not be required in this case, but you will need written documentation from your new landlord showing they intend to rent to you. Upon request, Montana Housing can assist homeless applicants with an official letter outlining the financial assistance under the Emergency Rental Assistance program that applicant may use to assist with their housing search.

Can I be evicted?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) imposed a nationwide temporary federal moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent on September 4, 2020. This temporary moratorium expired on July 31, 2021.

new order was issued to last from August 3 through October 3, 2021. The new order was substantially the same as the previous order and prevented any eviction for nonpayment of rent currently pending but not yet completed. It did not protect tenants whose eviction was completed by Aug. 3, 2021. As under the previous CDC moratorium, evictions for reasons other than nonpayment could still go forward and the order did not ban a landlord's late fees. To be protected under this moratorium, the renter must have completed and provided this declaration form to their landlord.

On Thursday, August 27, 2021, the Supreme Court issued an opinion blocking this temporary eviction ban, citing that the ban exceeded the CDC’s authority and did not have proper legal basis.

For more information, visit the Montana Legal Services Association.

Montana Housing advises renters to work with their landlords and make all good faith efforts to pay owed rental arrears and future rent due. Renters experiencing financial hardships due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic are urged to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance program.

In accordance with federal requirements, Montana Housing prohibits landlords that receive Emergency Rental Assistance funds for future rent or rental arrears from evicting the tenant for nonpayment of rent for the period covered by the assistance.


I am going through an eviction proceeding as a result of COVID-19, is there legal assistance available?

The Department of Commerce has partnered with the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) 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 visit MONTANALAWHELP.ORG or call 1.800.666.6899.