DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program supports Montanans who have experienced financial hardships directly or indirectly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of housing instability. Expanded program eligibility coming soon.

The program is funded through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act (ERA1) and American Rescue Plan Act (ERA2), appropriated to Montana Housing by the 67th Montana Legislature via HB 3, HB 630, and HB 632.

Available Assistance

Eligible households can receive assistance dating back to April 1, 2020 for:

  • Past due and future rent (maximum $2,200 per month)
  • Past due and future utility bills for home energy costs (maximum $300 per month)
  • Past due and future internet service ($50 per month)
  • Past due rent late fees (reasonable late fees as supported by lease agreement or landlord verification)
  • Unpaid rental security deposit
  • Rental application and screening fees

Step 1 - Check Eligibility

This step will help you determine if your household is eligible for rental and utility assistance. Eligible households must meet all criteria to qualify.

Eligible households must meet all of criteria below:

Household has experienced a financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19. Expanded program eligibility coming soon.

An applicant can self-certify their financial hardship, which can include any of the following:

  • Qualified for unemployment benefits
  • Experienced a reduction of income
  • Incurred significant costs
  • Experienced other financial hardship

Household income is at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). Check your household's AMI with the tool at HOUSING.MT.GOV .

Documentation needed to apply: Income documentation for all members of household.

OR:

  • Two months of Income Documentation (paystubs immediately prior to application)
  • Most recent Social Security or Social Security Disability letter
  • Pension Award Letter
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Statement
  • Unemployment Insurance benefit statement or screen shots from MontanaWorks
  • Child support award statement / Parental Plan or other written documentation
  • Annuities
  • Income from Assets (if total of all assets exceeds $5,000)
  • Self-employment income (most recent IRS Schedule C or profit and loss statement)
  • Documentation of other income not listed above
  • Zero income can be self-certified by the household

Step 2 - Gather Paperwork or Get Application Assistance

This step will help you prepare before starting your application. This includes documentation and information you need to apply, how to set up an Okta account, and application assistance resources.

Print a checklist of documentation needed for application.

To complete the online application, all renters and landlords must create a State of Montana Okta account. See videos below, click here for a step-by-step guide ,or call 406.444.2000 for help.

Watch a how-to video to set up an Okta account at HOUSING.MT.GOV:

Other information needed to apply:

  • Most recent utility bill (required, if requesting assistance)
  • Future months of utility assistance will be determined by using the average of the past two monthly bills.
  • Most recent internet bill (required, if requesting assistance)
  • Landlord information (name, email address, and phone number)

Household is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

Documentation needed to apply:

  • Late rent notice, rental ledger from landlord showing past due or eviction notice
  • Past due utility bill 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.

Household must be obligated to pay rent.

Documentation needed to apply:

  • Lease agreement OR
  • Lot rent or lot lease payment agreement OR
  • Extended stay hotel/motel agreement OR
  • Written documentation like an email or letter from the landlord who can be identified as the verified owner or management agent. Landlords can satisfy this requirement by completing the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance landlord verification form online.

Households receiving another form of rental assistance must also provide:

  • Most recent rent determination notice or other documentation of the tenant’s portion of rent.

Households receiving other rental assistance should first report any income loss or financial hardship to their rent subsidy provider (such as Public Housing Authority or property manager) and complete an interim re-examination before Emergency Rental Assistance is provided.

Information for Landlords

Landlords can initiate an application on behalf of their renter by completing the landlord verification form online. Landlords can also complete applications initiated by their renter by registering for a State of Montana citizen Okta account and logging in to the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance online application portal.

This information is needed to complete the online landlord verification form:

  • Verify renter’s name, rental address, monthly rent, past due rent, late fees, and any unpaid security deposit, as applicable
  • Landlord's mailing address
  • Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Tax Classification
  • Payee name as associated with Taxpayer Identification Number and Tax Classification
  • Select preferred payment method: Check or electronic funds transfer (EFT)
  • Mailing address for check, or bank account and bank routing number for EFT
  • Property management agreement between property owner and property management company, if applicable

The program will make outreach efforts to landlords. Per U.S. Department of Treasury guidance, outreach will be considered complete if:

  • At least three attempts are made by phone or email over a five calendar-day period. The program will make at least one outreach attempt by phone, or:
  • A landlord confirms in writing that he/she does not want to participate.

If a landlord does not respond to reasonable outreach efforts, assistance may be provided directly to the renter upon receipt of the renter’s Taxpayer Identification Number.

Application Help

Need help filling out the application?  You have two options:

  1. Schedule an Appointment

    Our online appointment scheduler is available at HOUSING.MT.GOV. These appointments will occur over the phone with one of our application processors.

  2. Get Help in Person

    Get help at one of the following locations. Please call the organization closest to you to find out more about their hours of availability.

Community Organization Address Phone
Billings District 7, HRDC 7 North 31 st Street, Billings 406.247.4732
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
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

Montana Housing does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to, or operations of its program, services, or activities. Individuals who need aid or services for effective communication, or need other disability-related accommodations in the programs and services offered, are invited to make their needs and preferences known to their application processor or Montana Housing staff: Housing@mt.gov / 406.841.2840 / TDD 406.841.2702.

Step 3 - Apply

After going through Steps 1 and 2, you are now ready to apply. Questions? View our FAQs.

Click here to apply .

What's next after submitting your application?

After you submit your application, you will see a pop-up notification confirming your new application has been added to the online system.

You can check your application status via a prominent tracker displayed at the top of your application in the online portal. There are five main application states: New, Submitted, In Review, Quality Control Review, and Approved.

  • "New" means that either the renter or landlord has completed their part of the application, but the other party still needs to complete their section.
  • "Submitted" means that both the renter and landlord have completed their components of the application.
  • "In Review" means that the application is being reviewed by Montana Housing staff for eligibility and to ensure all required documentation has been submitted.
  • "Quality Control Review" means that a Montana Housing staff member is completing a secondary review of the application to confirm payment calculations and ensure we have all information necessary to process a payment.
  • "Approved" means that Quality Control Review has approved the application. After approval, an authorized Montana Housing manager approves the payments.

If there is something missing from the application, or further clarification is needed, the application state may show "tenant pending information" or "landlord pending information." This means the application is open for the tenant or landlord to upload documents or clarify responses on the application.

If awarded assistance, payments for approved applications are submitted to the State accounting system each business day. The timeline to receive payment depends on whether payment is sent by check or by electronic fund transfer. Assistance payments by check can take 7-10 business days.

Applicants determined to be ineligible for the program will receive an email notification outlining the reason for the denial.

Duration of Assistance

For Emergency Rental Assistance provided under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (ERA1):

  • Past and future rent and utilities payments generally may not exceed 12 months.
  • An additional three months of future payments (for a maximum of 15 months) may be approved if needed to ensure continued housing stability (subject to available funds).
  • Assistance is first provided for past due rent and utility bills before future payments.
  • Assistance for future rent payments is limited to three months based on any application.

For Emergency Rental Assistance provided under the American Rescue Plan Act (ERA2):

  • Past and future rent and utility payments may not exceed 18 months.
  • Assistance for future rent payments is limited to three months based on any application.
  • Applicants who received the maximum 15 months under ERA1 may be eligible for an additional three months under ERA2.

Program Details

The Emergency Rental Assistance program and U.S. Department of the Treasury require Montana to prioritize assistance for households with incomes less than 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), 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 September 30, 2021. Through September 30, 2021, a total of 10% 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.

Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program publications are being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award numbers ERA0425 and ERAE0032 awarded to State of Montana by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

View frequently asked questions at HOUSING.MT.GOV.

MONTANA HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE FUND

The American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress and signed by the president contains $9.961 billion nationwide for a Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). That funding will help Montana Homeowners, and homeowners across the country, remain in their homes.

The Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund will include $50 million in federal funding allocated by Congress to the State of Montana through the American Rescue Plan Act, and appropriated to the Department of Commerce through the passage of HB 632.

APPLY NOW

View Homeowner Assistance Fund Plan

We recommend homeowners follow our Facebook page and visit HOUSING.MT.GOV for current information about housing assistance, and to subscribe to receive email updates from the Department of Commerce about future public hearings, community engagement opportunities, and updates regarding the status of the Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

The Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund serves Montanans whose gross household income does not exceed 150% of the Area Median Income. Additionally, 60% of funds available must target Montanans whose gross household income does not exceed 100% of the Area Median Income.

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. Households can search eligibility by 100% of Area Median Income or 150% of Area Median Income. Availability of funds for households whose income exceeds 100% of Area Median Income, but is less than 150% of Area Median Income, will be subject to the 60% of funds target federal requirement.

Funds will be available to a homeowner with respect to qualified expenses and hardship related to the homeowner's primary residence. Eligible homeowners must have experienced a Financial Hardship after January 21, 2020. A Financial Hardship means a material reduction in income or material increase in living expenses associated with the coronavirus pandemic that has created, or increased, a risk of mortgage delinquency, mortgage default, foreclosure, loss of utilities or home energy services, or displacement for a homeowner.

The Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund may be used for the following:

  1. Mortgage Reinstatement: Financial assistance, in the form of an intrest-free loan, to bring a mortgage account current with no remaining delinquent amounts, including payments under a forbearance plan, and to repay amounts advanced by the lender or servicer on the Borrower's behalf for property charges
  2. Lien Prevention: Financial assistance in the form of a grant, to prevent property tax foreclosure or remove or prevent creation of other liens (HOA, COA, etc.) that would place homeowner at imminent risk of displacement
  3. Utilities/Internet: Electric, gas, home energy, and internet/broadband assistance

 

Please see Sample Terms Sheet for further details on each of the above programs.

Prior to starting an application, Montana Homeowners can take several actions to prepare,  including:

  1. Contact your mortgage servicer and determine whether there are other loss mitigation options available to you, based on the investor / insurer of your loan. Resource: CFPB website
  2. Connect with a HUD-approved housing counselor. Resource: HUD-approved housing counselor and/or Montana Homeowner Housing Counseling Network
  3. Be prepared to gather documentation that will be needed for a future HAF application such as:
    • Current income verification
    • Documentation from Mortgage Servicer verifying that loss mitigation options have been pursued
    • Most recent mortgage statement
    • Deed of Trust for primary residence
    • Utility and/or internet shut-off or late notice

Program Background

The purpose of the Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund, in accordance with federal legislation and U.S. Treasury guidance, is to mitigate financial hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic by providing funds to prevent homeowner mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacements of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020.

U.S. Treasury required states to complete and submit a Homeowner Assistance Fund Plan for their review and approval before the full federal funding is released to support the launch of a statewide Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This plan is required to include a data-driven assessment of homeowner needs and evidence of public participation and community engagement to inform program design.

Montana Housing published and released a draft of the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Plan for a 30-day public comment period starting August 12, 2021 through September 12, 2021. Members of the public, including but not limited to, homeowners, mortgage servicers, and housing counseling and foreclosure prevention experts, were provided an opportunity to comment on any aspect of the HAF Plan draft.

In-person public comment opportunities on the proposed plan were also provided during the September 8, 2021 Commission meeting, and time was allotted during the September 14, 2021 Montana Board of Housing meeting, in accordance with state open meeting law requirements.

Following the close of public comment, the Montana HAF Plan was finalized and submitted to the U.S. Department of the Treasury on September 28, 2021. As has been the experience with most other states, Treasury provided Montana Housing with a list of follow-up questions in mid-November and requested responses within 30-days. Montana Housing submitted the requested information on December 14, 2021. Treasury formally approved the Montana HAF Plan on January 18, 2022.

Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund program publications are being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number HAF0008 awarded to State of Montana by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.