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Affordable Homes in Montana

Bruce Brensdal

Farewell to Montana Housing’s Bruce Brensdal

In the 25 years that Bruce Brensdal has led Montana Housing at the Department of Commerce, he’s overseen more than $4 billion in funding for affordable homes across the state. That’s meant thousands of Montana individuals and families have been able to access affordable and safe homes in communities in every corner of the state.

Brensdal joined Montana Housing as the manager of the state’s multifamily programs in June of 1995, jumping headfirst into the complexities of housing tax credits. He quickly became a leader in this space and by 2000 was promoted to oversee the entire Housing Division at Commerce. Later this month, Brensdal will retire from a distinguished career that has made a difference in so many lives.

“The good lord blessed me with an opportunity to do what I’ve done,” Brensdal said, “and I’ve been blessed with the team I get to work with.”

In the 25 years Brensdal has been part of the affordable housing world, the mission has remained constant, but the creativity required to develop projects has been necessitated by a need far outpaced by available resources.

“The complexity of financing has changed. Deals to develop affordable homes now include bonds, tax credits, private funds, and other public sources,” Brensdal said. “People have gotten more educated – more creative – driven by resource limits.”

What’s remained the same is the foundational importance of homes that are affordable, safe, and in communities of all shapes and sizes. “It’s just as important today for a healthy community and that’s exactly the same as when I started,” he said.

Brensdal says it’s been the mission and diversity of work that have kept him enthusiastic about his job after all these years. Primarily, he says, it’s the people who drive him.

“It’s all about the people. The team I’ve been blessed to work with, and the people we serve.”

Brensdal plans to take a little time off this summer but will still be found driving a combine at his family farm in Plentywood and managing the Twisters, his son’s Special Olympics team.

“I’ve just been so lucky to do what I’ve been able to do,” Brensdal said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better job or better people to work with.”

Cheryl Cohen

Welcome Cheryl Cohen

        Division Administrator, Montana Housing

Cheryl Cohen joined Montana Housing as Operations Manager in October 2018 and was hired as Division Administrator in May 2020. She previously served over eight years as a Community Development Specialist and Senior Community Development Specialist with the City of Seattle Office of Housing’s multifamily asset management unit. She has over 15 years of affordable housing compliance, property/asset management, and operations experience in the public and non-profit sectors. Cheryl is certified in low income housing tax credit compliance and is a Certified Specialist in HUD Occupancy. She has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington.

Reminder: Emergency Housing Assistance is Available

The Emergency Housing Assistance program provides rent, security deposit, mortgage payment, and/or hazard insurance assistance as-needed for Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income loss as a result of COVID-19.

Apply Now Teal

New Grant Programs

The Social Service Nonprofit Grant program provides grants of up to $10,000 per applicant are available for nonprofit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency to retain existing programs and services, employees, or organizational viability for provision of future services and operations. Eligible applicants are registered, Montana-based social service nonprofits that were operating prior to February 15, 2020. This includes senior services, housing services, transportation, public safety, energy assistance, economic development, job training, recreational services and tourism-related activities. Current funding available is $10 million. 

The Montana Business Adaptation Program provides reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses related to keeping staff and customers safe – from the purchase of personal protective equipment to resources needed for staff to work remotely. Eligible small business must be Montana-based, employ 50 or less, have incurred eligible adaptation expenses since Feb.15 due to COVID-19, and be in good standing with the Secretary of State or local tribal government. Nonprofit entities are eligible. Eligible expenses include costs related to communication, remote work equipment, cleaning supplies, tools to enhance social distancing and sanitation, travel and hotel costs related to quarantining workers. Total funding available is $20 million, the maximum reimbursement amount per business is $5,000.

Housing News

Cascade Ridge in Great Falls

Montana Board of Housing Invites 8 Affordable Homes Properties to Apply for Federal Housing Credits

The Montana Board of Housing met via webinar Tuesday for a public meeting to determine which communities and affiliated affordable rental properties will be invited to move forward with housing tax credit applications. More


Rent, Mortgage Assistance Available to Montanans Impacted by COVID-19

Montana Housing at the Department of Commerce is reminding Montanans that $50 million is available for rent and mortgage assistance for Montanans who have lost a job or income as a result of COVID-19. More

Industry Trends

COVID-19 Forces Tough Decisions in Housing Assistance


After distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in the past three months, states and cities don’t have much money left to help struggling renters, leaving officials with an uncomfortable question: Who gets prioritized for help? 

COVID-19 is forcing local governments to make tough decisions about rental assistance: Some programs are relying on lotteries to ensure all applicants have a fair shot, while others are focusing on specific populations, such as workers ineligible for federal relief. More

NCSHA Washington Report

With encouraging news in such short supply these days, it’s frustrating to find any dark linings in what look like silver clouds.

Last Friday’s report from the National Multifamily Housing Council that a little more than 80 percent of renters in 11.5 million apartments paid their May rent surpassed most expectations and lifted many spirits. More

Montana’s Community Snapshot Testing Initiative

A Montana Community

Building from surveillance testing efforts at long term care facilities, with Tribal Nations and with front-line health care workers, the State is pursuing more frequent and widespread COVID-19 testing to help reopen Montana.

The effort, known as Community Snapshot Testing, aims to develop an early warning system for a COVID-19 outbreak through one of the major risk factors facing the state. This increase in testing will not only augment efforts to identify cases early and support COVID-19 response and mitigation measures, it will build a foundation that will better prepare communities for possible increased exposure that may occur in the future.  


  • Snapshot Testing Toolkit for Businesses 
    • Montana’s Community Snapshot Testing Initiative Brochure
    • Facility plan for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting
    • Information about asymptomatic testing 

Request a Testing Event 

Montana Department of Emergency Services
Statewide Emergency Coordination Center

Montana Census 2020

If Montana is to receive its fair sharing of federal funding and potentially gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, it's important for everyone across the state to make sure family, neighbors and friends have completed their Census form.

Filling out the Census is quick, easy, and safe. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and your information and privacy are protected by federal law.

The 2020 Census is available to fill out online at

Responding to the Census by phone is also an option. The whole process takes about 10 minutes. A live person answers the phone and takes the callers response (after some brief automated information is first provided). Here are some quick facts:

  • To begin, call 844-330-2020 or  844-467-2020 TDD (Telephone Display Device)
  • Have your 12-digit Census ID number available
  • Full language support is provided for 59 non-English languages; go to the Census “Responding-by-phone” website for more information
  • Hours of Operation: 
    • English and Spanish language – 7 am to 2 am Eastern Time
    • Non-English and Non-Spanish language – 8 am to 10 pm Eastern Time
  • A callback option is available to better respond to requests during periods of high call volume. 
Fill Out Your 2020 Census Questionnaire Today!

Montana Real ID

A reminder from your friends at the Montana Department of Justice-Motor Vehicle Division

The REAL ID deadline has been extended until October 1, 2021.

REAL ID tips:

  • Make an appointment in advance.  Appointment times may be booked out six to eight weeks.
  • Plan ahead! Driver licenses may be renewed within six months of their expiration date, and renewal appointments can be made up to six months in advance.
  • Gather the required documents and make sure they are certified, if required.  Getting certified documents can take several days or weeks
  • Has your name changed? Don’t forget to bring documents that account for name changes like after marriage or divorce.
  • A person with a disability may have their REAL ID fees waived if they present certification of the disability provided by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

To schedule an appointment or learn more about REAL ID visit

Homeownership Program

Montana Housing's Homeownership Program has Set-aside loans available

We want to remind partners that Montana Housing’s Set-aside Loan Program is designed to assist borrowers earning up to 80 percent of median income who receive down payment assistance from specific sources or special programs approved by our Board. If a borrower is using Home$tart, Dream Makers Grant Funds, HOME funds from an HRDC or NeighborWorks, etc. they may be eligible for this lower rate first mortgage. Check our website to see all approved Set-aside partners. 

2020 Virtual Housing Partnership Conference

Vurtal Housing Conference Participents

The 2020 Virtual Montana Housing Partnership Conference was a huge success and we want to thank our sponsors, speakers and everyone who joined us for this fun-filled day of learning and networking. 

For conference presentations, sponsors and information about the Montana Housing Partnership visit

Upcoming Events and Deadlines