Montana Housing Newsletter

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Big Boulder Apartments

A message from Bruce Brensdal

Welcome to Montana Housing's first official newsletter!

With the uncertainty we are facing at this time, we know how important our state-wide partners are for us to continue our mission, helping Montanans access affordable homes. With our newsletter, we aim to keep our housing partners informed with the latest Montana housing news, housing guidance on COVID-19, industry trends, upcoming events, important deadlines and helpful information about our housing programs.

Bruce Brensdal, Montana Housing Division Administrator

Bruce Pic

Montana Housing Guidance on COVID-19

At Montana Housing, within the Department of Commerce, we are closely monitoring the impacts of the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. We will communicate with statewide housing partners any relevant information about COVID-19 and how it affects affordable homes in Montana.

A coronavirus (COVID-19) information phone line at 1-888-333-0461 has been launched and Montanans can also email questions to Montanans can also visit to receive regularly updated information on COVID-19.

The Montana Housing customer service window is currently closed to public visitors to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Montana Housing borrowers needing to make a mortgage payment can do so online, by phone, ACH or sending it by mail. Montana Housing will waive phone and online payment fees through the month of May. For questions about Montana Housing’s programs, please call 406.841.2840.

Click Here for Full Guidance 

Announcement from Governor Bullock

Governor Steve Bullock announced on Wednesday a new Directive to reopen Montana.

The Directive establishes guidance applicable to all phases and provides direction for Phase One, including lifting the Stay at Home Directive and reopening non-essential businesses. It also provides local school boards the flexibility to make decisions about the remainder of the academic year. 

The March 30 and April 13 Directives to limit foreclosures, evictions, and disconnections from service and all of their terms are extended through May 24, unless modified by a subsequent Directive, except as follows:

  • For individuals who are members of a vulnerable population and who, pursuant to this Directive, remain sheltered at home, the protections of the March 30 and April 13 Directives will expire 30 days after the individual ceases to shelter at home or at the end of the emergency, whichever is sooner.
  • “Vulnerable Individuals” is defined as people over 65 years of age, people with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, or asthma, and people whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer or other conditions requiring such therapy.

Read the April 22 Phase One Directive here

Housing in the News

Orchard Gardens Missoula Montana

Emergency Housing Assistance Now Available for Montana Families Hardest Hit by COVID-19

The Montana Department of Commerce has announced that families who have suffered substantial financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 may now apply for rental assistance through the Emergency Housing Assistance program. More

Fire Tower Apartments - Helena, Mont.

Commerce Announces $4.5 Million in Housing Trust Fund and HOME Awards

The Montana Department of Commerce announced that four affordable housing developers representing four Montana communities will share more than $4.5 million of federal funding through the Housing Trust Fund and HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The money will be used to support the construction, rehabilitation and preservation of affordable rental homes in Montana. More

Oakwood Village Havre Montana

8 Montana Communities Receive Coal Trust Funding to Develop and Rehabilitate Affordable Rental Homes

Earlier this year, the Montana Department of Commerce announced that four Montana communities will receive funding to support affordable rental homes through the Multifamily Coal Trust Homes program. In April, an additional four communities received funding.

The Multifamily Coal Trust Homes program makes available dollars to develop affordable rental homes by providing housing developers with low-interest rate loans. The loans can be used for projects such as new construction, acquisition and/or rehabilitation of existing multifamily rental homes, acquisition of land for multifamily rental homes and land trusts for mobile or manufactured homes. When the loans are paid off, the money returned will be redistributed and used to fund the development of additional homes.

In total, the Montana Board of Housing has approved more than $14.7 million of loan funding that will support the development and rehabilitation 252 affordable homes in Montana.

Program Updates

Rental Assistance

Rental Assistance

Emergency Housing Assistance

In accordance with Governor Bullock’s April 13 Directive, Emergency Housing Assistance will help residents stay in their current home or help obtain housing by providing rental assistance and security deposit assistance to Montanans who are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Eligible families must include at least one child under 18 and suffer from a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19. A family of four must have a monthly income of $4,367 or less and less than $3,000 in readily available assets such as cash or savings. 

Applicants can expect to have their applications reviewed within 5-10 days. Once approved, a monthly rental payment or security deposit will be mailed or directly deposited from Montana Housing at the Department of Commerce to the applicant’s landlord. 

Approximately $430,000 in TANF funds allocated to the Department will be used to launch the relief program. Additional state or federal funds may be added to the program. 

Learn More Teal

Additional Program Updates

Montana Housing has recently received 60 Mainstream housing vouchers from HUD.
Vouchers will provide rental assistance and community supportive services to Montanans who are living with a disability. Montana Housing will administer the rental assistance vouchers and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPPHS) will provide supportive services for the program.

Montana Housing will work with DPHHS on the implementation of the Mainstream Voucher Program over the next several months and plan to accept applications for the program during the summer of 2020.

Section 811 Program
Montana Housing is recruiting Multifamily properties interested in participating in the HUD Section 811 Program to house people with disabilities that are between the ages of 18 and 62. Contact Diana Collver-Vanek for an application at 406.841.2817.

A note about U.S. Census Bureau employment
Just a reminder that Census employment is excluded income as indicated in PIH Notice 2017-05 and should not be counted toward applicants and participants in the Housing Choice Voucher programs. 

Servicing 3

Loan Servicing

Montana Housing’s customer service window is closed to the public until further notice. Montana Housing is directing borrowers to pay online, by phone, ACH, or sending it by mail. Montana Housing will waive phone and online payment fees through the month of May (May 31).

CARES Act Consumer Right to Request Forbearance

  • On March 27, 2020, congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). Under the CARES Act, Montana Housing homeowners with a Federally backed mortgage loan experiencing a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID–19 emergency may request forbearance on their Federally backed mortgage loan, regardless of delinquency status. Please review our Montana Housing COVID-19 Response letter for details.
  • To request a forbearance, Montana Housing borrowers must submit a completed Montana Housing COVID-19 Forbearance Acknowledgement form. Upon receipt of the completed form, Montana Housing Loan Servicing Specialists will contact the borrower to discuss next steps. It is critical that borrowers keep in contact with us during this time so we can identify the best option available to each borrower, based on individual circumstances.
  • Montana Housing must follow the guidelines set forth by the insurer/guarantor (FHA, VA, RD, HUD 184) of your loan. These guidelines allow Montana Housing to offer loan modifications, payment plans, and forbearance but do not allow us to defer payments. Montana Housing, as a loan servicer of federally insured mortgages, applauds the passage of the federal CARES Act to provide relief for our homeowners.  

Consumer Finance Protection Agency Guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options



COVID-19 Update

Montana Housing’s loan purchasing function remains operational and we plan to continue to fund reserved loans weekly.

Please review our COVID-19 Guidance for Lenders and Partners for specific program changes.

Additional Program Updates

A $42 million bond was issued by the Montana Board of Housing to help expand access to affordable homes in Montana. Funding from the bond sale will provide $30 million of low-interest rate mortgage loans and down payment assistance programs which are administered Montana Housing. $12 million will be used to refund higher interest bonds.

As a direct result of the sale, approximately 170 Montana families or individuals with an average income of $56,000 will be able to move into homes that have an average purchase price of $180,000. These new homebuyers will save money over the course of a 30-year mortgage by paying a lower-than-conventional interest rate.

In 2019, similar bond sales enabled Montana Housing to assist nearly 450 homebuyers and provide $78.4 million of low-interest mortgage loans in 36 Montana counties.

Multifamily Development

Multifamily Rental Development

COVID-19 Update 

Montana Housing will postpone site visits for Housing Credits and Project Based Section 8 properties. We are currently identifying options for online submission of compliance documents.

  • The 2021 Housing Credit Letter of Intent (LOI) deadline has been extended to April 27, 2020. The meeting for Board consideration of these LOI’s will continue to be May 18 and 19, 2020 via webinar. Developers are asked to be prepared to do remote presentations for the Board meeting. 
  • Audits / File Reviews: Compliance audits / file reviews will be conducted electronically. Properties due for a review in 2020 will be contacted with further instructions.
  • Recertifications: For properties that are required to complete annual recertifications of income, we are permitting delays for the recertification for all tenants at this time.
  • Once physical inspections resume, properties will be expected to begin recertifying tenants in cases where the recertification was delayed. Please make the effective date retroactive to when the recertification was originally due. We will not issue a compliance finding for late recertifications during this COVID-19 period.
  • Student Certification: For properties not doing recertifications, but still completing annual student certifications, we are permitting the delay of student certifications for all tenants at this time. Student Certifications will also need to be completed when physical inspections resume. The effective date will be the date due. Use current signature dates even though the student cert is made retroactive.  Montana Housing will require ‘True & Correct as of’ language.

Industry Trends

Housing and Healthcare

Intersection of Housing and Healthcare
In April 2019, the State of Montana was selected to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Accelerator Program (IAP) Partnerships Implementation Track. The IAP, continuing through May 2020, is a technical assistance opportunity aiming to build capacity and enhance collaboration between a state’s Medicaid system and its housing agencies. More

NCSHA Washington Report - The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCS
"One of the more positive trends of the 2010s that should accelerate in the years ahead is the interest of major health care industry players in pitching in on the housing affordability crisis. The past decade saw multi-hundred-million-dollar commitments to housing from major health insurers such as Anthem, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealth and significant investments by many other smaller insurers." More

Health Systems Increase Investment in Affordable Housing Solutions - American Hospital Association
"Kaiser Permanente last week unveiled three multimillion-dollar initiatives to create affordable housing for vulnerable populations in its service areas. The programs, which engage community and investment partners, are part of a larger strategy to improve the health of its most vulnerable population and reduce the costs of treating them." More

Bozeman developers plan ‘missing middle’ apartments within opportunity zone - Bozeman Daily Chronicle
"Bozeman developers have plans to build apartments priced toward the “missing middle” — those struggling to find rent they can pay but don’t qualify for low-income housing. Thanks to a federal tax break, the developers now have a national investor to help get that started." More

Tax credit available for elderly homeowners, renters - Char-Koosta News
"As income tax filing season begins, the Montana Department of Revenue reminds Montanans 62 and older that they may qualify for the Elderly Homeowner/Renter Tax Credit, worth up to $1,000. For those who qualify, this credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax at all could receive the credit." More

Governor Bullock, Lt. Gov. Cooney Highlight Availability of tax incentives for working Montanans - Montana Governor's Office
"Governor Steve Bullock and Lt. Governor Mike Cooney today highlighted a tax credit for up to 75,000 low and middle-income Montanans that is available for the first time after receiving approval from the Legislature in 2017."

“This tax credit will benefit nearly 75,000 working Montanans and help them provide basics for their families such as groceries and gas,” Governor Bullock said. “In addition to lifting families out of poverty, the tax credit gets dollars invested in communities across the state to support local economies.” More

Montana Census 2020

Montana Census 2020

"Make it count"

Counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state’s share of federal funding over the next decade, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress.

Montana receives an estimated $2 billion in federal funds each year based on Census data. For every Montana resident counted, a Census study estimates the state will receive $20,000 over the decade for things like highway planning, healthcare, educational programs and infrastructure. Responding to the Census is quick, easy, safe and important.

Fill out your form online at

For more information about why the Census matters to Montana, visit CENSUS.MT.GOV

Census 2020 Image

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

Montana Housing Partnership Conference

Montana Housing Partnership Conference Rescheduled to May 2021

A one-day virtual event will take place on June 16, 2020


To protect against the spread of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 Montana Housing and NeighborWorks Montana have decided to move to a one-day virtual format for the annual housing partnership conference originally scheduled for June 15-17, and postpone an in-person conference to May of 2021. While we are incredibly disappointed we won’t be gathering in person this year, the health and safety of our sponsors and attendees is our number one priority.

Apr. 27: Housing Credit Letter of Intent Submission Deadline
May 11: Housing Coordinating Team Meeting, Via Webinar
May 18-19: MBOH Board Meeting, Via Webinar
Jun. 15: MBOH Board Meeting, TBD

Montana Healthy Communities Conference, Rescheduled for fall 2020, date TBD
Housing Credits Compliance and Fair Housing Training, Rescheduled for a later date TBD