The Montana Department of Commerce announced Monday that Montana Housing has made updates to the Emergency Housing Assistance program to help more Montanans access emergency housing assistance.

Spokesperson Emilie Ritter Saunders provides details on the assistance that became available on Monday.

“In May, the Department of Commerce through our Montana housing division opened an emergency housing assistance program, which helps renters and homeowners pay their monthly rent or mortgage with emergency housing assistance funds,” said Ritter Saunders. “We just announced today that we are changing some of the eligibility requirements for that program, hopefully to make it easier for more Montanans to access those funds, and to make sure that if someone has lost a job or lost significant income related to the pandemic, that they have the ability to still make their rent payments and mortgage payments so they can stay in their homes.”

Ritter Saunders detailed some of the changes in eligibility requirements for the state program.

We are changing some of the eligibility requirements for that program, hopefully to make it easier for more Montanans to access those funds, and to make sure that if someone has lost a job or lost significant income related to the pandemic, that they have the ability to still make their rent payments and mortgage payments so they can stay in their homes.

“The eligibility updates today include reducing the household contribution from 30% of gross income to 25% of net income,” she said. “So meaning what you actually take home and put in your in your checking account or savings account. We've also eliminated the $10,000 readily available assets limit. So that would be any of the cash or savings that you might have on hand. And we've implemented a $250 a month minimum award, as well.”

Ritter Saunders laid out the income guidelines for those who will apply for the rent and mortgage assistance.

“Household income limits range from $75,000 up to $125,000,” she said. “That's based on family size. So a large family, I believe that’s more than five individuals would have that ceiling at $125,000. The other thing I just would remind folks is that if you're already receiving another form of housing assistance, you would not be eligible for this program.”

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