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Cheryl Cohen

A Message from Cheryl Cohen

        Division Administrator, Montana Housing

The emergence of the novel Coronavirus, coupled with an environment of divisive politics and civil unrest, has impacted so many aspects of our personal and professional lives. Bruce Brensdal, after 30 years of incredible service to the state of Montana dedicated to the expanding access to affordable housing, transitioned to retirement. And it seems all our remarkable transitions and life events are now captured via virtual Zoom calls.  

Yet despite and even in response to events beyond our control, the staff at Montana Housing have demonstrated a tireless commitment to our mission with a heightened awareness of all of the small and big ways our work impacts families and induviduals across our state.

Starting with the passage of the CARES Act, Montana Housing staff has also been actively assessing the impacts of COVID-19 related to legislation and regulations and implementing programmatic shifts needed to comply with these changes. This has included mortgage forbearance requirements, foreclosure and eviction moratoriums, adjustments to file reviews and on-site inspections and a plethora of other impacts. Not only have we needed to digest and implement these changes internally, but we’ve also needed to communicate these changes with our partners and clients.

Since March 1, Montana Housing staff have worked approximately 7,000 hours on COVID-19 related activities, including administration of the two phases of the Emergency Housing Assistance program. 

With all of these challenges facing us, Montana Housing will continue our mission to help Montanans have access to affordable homes. And along with our housing partners, we will make it through this with added resiliency and strength.

Welcome Joe DeFilippis

Montana Housing is pleased to announce Joe DeFilippis as its new Operations Manager. Joe has 19 years of experience in state government with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. When not at work, Joe enjoys golf and spending time with his wife and three children.

Joe DeFilippis

Emergency Housing Assistance

More Montanans may now be eligible for monthly rent and mortgage assistance. Montana Housing has made updates to the Emergency Housing Assistance program to help more Montanans access emergency housing assistance.

The eligibility updates include reducing the household contribution calculation from 30 percent of gross income to 25 percent of net income, eliminating the $10,000 readily available assets limit in checking and savings accounts and implementing a $250 per month minimum award.

At Montana Housing, we encourage Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income loss as a result of COVID-19 to apply for Emergency Housing Assistance. The Emergency Housing Assistance program provides rent, security deposit, mortgage payment and/or hazard insurance assistance to qualified households.

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American Renters Will Owe Up to $34 Billion in Back Rent by January

New Report Demonstrates the Urgent Need for Federal Emergency Rental Aid

A recent report from the NCSHA shows that U.S. renters will owe up to $34 billion in past-due rent by January, increasing eviction filings and imposing punishing financial hardship on millions in just a few months.

The report estimates roughly 10-14 million renter households home to 23-34 million renters were behind on their rent by a total of roughly $12-$17 billion as of September 14. These renters will owe up to $34 billion by January, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium expires.

In Montana, the report estimates that 10,000-30,000 renter households are unable to pay for rent and are at the risk of eviction. The report also estimates 10,000 eviction filings by January 2021 and a $23-$51 million estimated range of rent shortfall in Montana by January 2021.

State housing finance agencies in 33 states, including here in Montana, have stood up emergency rental assistance programs in the last six months, but NCSHA estimates they will not be able to meet the current and coming need without more federal support. Read more here.

Commerce Housing News

Northstar Apartments

Montana Housing Partners with NeighborWorks Montana to Boost Emergency Housing Assistance

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Tuesday, July 28, that Montana Housing and NeighborWorks Montana will partner to increase awareness of the availability of rent and mortgage payment assistance as federal unemployment insurance benefits expire. More

Montana Apartments

Centers for Disease Control Order Bans Evictions

On September 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a temporary eviction moratorium on all rental units nationwide, effective through the end of the year. Under the order, a landlord, owner of a residential property or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, may not evict any covered person from any residential property in the United States. More

Program Updates

Homeownership Program

Homeownership Program 

Montana Housing received favorable pricing in the bond market recently on a $30 million tax exempt bond issue that allows us to offer competitive rates to first time homebuyers around the state. Visit our website for current rates.

We would like to remind Montanans that we offer affordable downpayment assistance through the Bond Advantage and MBOH Plus Programs to those buyers who might not have reserves to pay for closing costs on their own.

Education Opportunities for Lenders: We now have training modules on our website for lenders who are new to our programs or need a refresher or just more information about the programs we offer.

Multifamily Program

Multifamily Program

Starting September 16, 2020 to October 15, 2020, the public comment period is now open for the Housing Credit Program 2022 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). All comments will be given due consideration in the final 2022 QAP to be presented to the Montana Board of Housing on November 2, 2020. The deadline to comment is Oct. 15, 2020.

Please send your completed comments to Kellie Guariglia at Montana Housing. More

Rental Assistance Program

Rental Assistance Program

Two new housing assistance programs will provide at least $550,000 of federal CARES Act funding for deposit assistance and assistance for repairs and upgrades for renters and landlords who participate in the Housing Choice VoucherVeterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), and Mainstream Voucher programs is now available.

“We want to remove barriers that may exist for Housing Choice Voucher participants, especially when it comes to paying a security deposit. We also want to increase landlord participation in the program,” Montana Housing Administrator Cheryl Cohen said. “The result will allow more Montanans to access an affordable home and will give more Montana landlords a chance to make needed repairs and upgrades to their properties.” More

Industry Trends


NCSHA Receives Grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Advance Healthy Housing 

Initiative Will Identify Opportunities for State Housing Finance Agency Leadership

The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) today (July 31, 2020) announced it has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance opportunities for financing healthier multifamily affordable housing.

“NCSHA is honored to receive this funding,” said California Housing Finance Agency Executive Director and NCSHA Chair Tia Boatman Patterson. “The nation’s state housing finance agencies are eager to do more at the nexus of health and housing, especially in light of the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus and other health challenges on households of color and other low-income renters.”

The NCSHA initiative will assess the state of the field in improving health outcomes for residents of affordable rental housing and identify best practices and other opportunities for financing healthier and more resilient affordable properties and communities.

“We know a growing number of affordable multifamily owners, investors, and community-based groups are already active in this area, as are many state HFAs,” said NCSHA Executive Director Stockton Williams. “Our goal is to add value to these efforts and enhance state HFA policies and practices to advance a healthier and more holistic vision of affordable housing.”

For more information on this initiative, contact project director James Tassos, NCSHA Deputy Director of Tax Policy and Strategic Initiatives, or visit our websiteAbout the National Council of State Housing Agencies For more than 50 years, state Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) have played a central role in the nation’s affordable housing system, delivering financing to make possible the purchase, development, and rehabilitation of affordable homes and rental apartments for low- and middle-income households.

The National Council of State Housing Agencies is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created to advance, through advocacy and education, the efforts of the nation’s state HFAs and their partners to provide affordable housing to those who need it. NCSHA’s vision: An affordably housed nation. Learn more at

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