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Cheryl Cohen

A Message from Cheryl Cohen

        Division Administrator, Montana Housing


My kindergarten class was interviewed for a story in our small-town newspaper about the dreams and goals of the to-be graduates of the year 2000. Back then, I wanted to be a veterinarian but one of my classmates interviewed before me said the same thing and so when the journalist asked me, the only other job I could think of was waitress. And so, I am quoted in the story to be an aspiring waitress. I did waitress throughout college, but my next job involved working four 10-hour shifts, Thursday to Sunday, at a homeless shelter for women. The shelter offered respite, shower and laundry facilities and meals. I think I learned more working at that shelter than any of my college classes.

I mention this because I am struck that those of us who work in the affordable housing industry often seem to arrive here unintentionally or accidentally. Having a place to call home is a fundamental and universal human need. My observation is that we get hooked on this mission and never or rarely want to leave this critical work. We are fortunate to have found our professional calling, and to have the honor and privilege to serve our neighbors and communities each day.

In 2020:

  • Over 7,300 families in Montana received rental assistance from one of our programs, and rental assistance payments made to landlords and property owners totaled more than $45 million.
  • We closed three bond issues totaling just under $110 million, funded 861 loans for Montana homebuyers and provided targeted set-aside, special program, and down payment assistance to 591 Montana homebuyers.
  • We allocated more than $32.6 million in housing credits for 181 newly constructed or preserved homes in Lewistown, Billings, Laurel, Missoula, Kalispell, and Crow Agency. These housing credits will support $43.8 million in construction via private/public partnerships, create 581 new jobs and provide $23,522,562 of wage income for local economies.
  • We issued $112 million in private activity bonds to support 732 affordable rental homes.
  • Seven projects, comprising 252 rental homes, received preliminary loan commitments from the $15 million in Coal Tax Trust Fund dollars under the new Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program.

I would like to thank all the Montana Housing staff and our partner agencies who have helped make these impacts possible. I know I am grateful to have stumbled into this line of work, and I suspect many of you feel the same.

May your homes be filled with peace and joy this year.

Nicole Whyte

Welcome Nicole Whyte

Montana Housing is pleased to announce Nicole Whyte as its new Multifamily Program Manager.

Before moving to Helena to accept her new position at Commerce, Nicole lived in Missoula where she was the Building and Development Program Manager for the Missoula County Public Works Building Division. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration, both from University of Montana. She also currently serves on the Board for the community land trust nonprofit, Trust Montana. In the evenings or the weekends, you can find Nicole in the mountains with her dog Bruno and her boyfriend Trevor, most likely fly fishing, SUP’ing, snowboarding, running, rock climbing and peak bagging. Nicole also loves to solo international travel and she can’t wait to return to that post COVID!

Montana Housing Fund Accepting Contributions

The Montana Legislature established the Housing Montana Fund (HMF) during the 1999 session. It is a revolving loan fund that is to be used for eligible applicants and affordable home development activities. 

Montana Housing is reminding all of our housing partners that contributions, gifts and grants may be deposited into the Montana Housing Fund. If you would like to contribute, please send a clearly marked check to Montana Housing at P.O. Box 200528, Helena, Montana 59620-0528. Please discuss with your tax professional if this contribution would be an allowable tax deduction.

Eligible Applicants include state government, local governments, tribal governments, local housing authorities, nonprofit communities or neighborhood-based organizations, regional or statewide nonprofit housing assistance organizations and for-profit housing developers.

Eligible activities include matching funds, bridge financing, acquisition of existing housing stock, preconstruction technical assistance, acquisition of land for housing developments, land banking, land trusts; and short-term, site-based housing vouchers for needy individuals. An HMF loan may not be granted that will supplant existing or available funding for eligible activities.

For more information visit HOUSING.MT.GOV.

Save the Date!

Montana Housing’s Annual Housing Tax Credit Compliance Training | March 30-31

Montana Housing's Annual Compliance Training is right around the corner on March 30-31! This compliance training is for developers and management companies that work with Housing Tax Credit properties. The virtual training will go over all aspects of compliance for the Housing Tax Credit program in Montana.

This year’s trainer will be Steve Rosenblatt of Spectrum Seminars. Steve began his career in affordable housing 43 years ago. He has been offering trainings for U.S. Department of Agriculture since 1986, Housing since 1989. In his career, he has trained over 100,000 people including developers, managers, accountants, investors and state and federal agency staff.

Registration information is coming soon.

Commerce Housing News

Montana Affordable Homes

Eviction Ban Extended for Renters

Federal Eviction Moratorium for Renters Effective Through Jan. 31, 2021

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, passed by Congress and signed by the president, extended the temporary federal eviction moratorium order from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) through January 31, 2021.

Under the extension, 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 

Oakwood Village Apartments

Commerce Announces $2.4 Million to Rehabilitate and Preserve Affordable Rental Homes

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that three affordable housing developers in two Montana communities will share $2.4 million of federal funding through the Housing Trust Fund Program. The funding will be used to support the rehabilitation and preservation of affordable rental homes in Montana. More

Billings Montana

Commerce Announces $2.5 Million to Preserve and Build New Affordable Homes in 5 Montana Communities

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Friday more than $2.5 million in federal funding has been awarded to five Montana communities to support the rehabilitation and construction of affordable homes. More

Legal Pic

Commerce Department Launches Program to Provide Legal Assistance for Montanans Facing Pandemic-Related Evictions

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Tuesday a new partnership with the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) to form the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, a new program that will provide civil legal assistance for Montanans facing evictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More

Program Updates

Homeownership Program

Homeownership Program 

As purchase prices around the state continue to increase, Montana Housing offers loan programs with affordable rates and down payment assistance options to assist Montana residents purchase their first home. We continue to work with nonprofit partners offering lower interest rate set-aside loans when a borrower is utilizing down payment assistance or participating in any of the following programs: NeighborWorks Montana Second Mortgage, CAP NWMT Kalispell Community Land Trust, Missoula Combined HRDC XI HOME Funds, Bozeman District IX HOME Funds, Home$tart Program (FHLB), HUD Section 184 Home Loan, Sparrow Homes and the Dream Makers Matching Grant Funds (Veterans Only), City of Billings. 

Montana Housing works with CLTs (Community Land Trust) in several communities around the state to offer financing, this is a wonderful way to ensure continued affordability of homes. If you are working with a borrower who is purchasing in a home on a Community Land Trust, you MUST work with us and the land trust organization before closing the loan. Montana Housing requires reviewing the title commitment and approving the lease prior to closing. These loans also have specific Riders, Recording priorities, etc. Please review the Montana Housing Community Land Trust webpage for terms and conditions and guidelines prior to closing a loan.

The Veteran’s Home Loan Program is still available to qualifying veterans on a first come, first serve basis. It is funded as loan payments and payoffs are recaptured and offered for new loans.  This program provides first mortgage funds to Montana residents serving or who have served in the military through the federal armed services and the Montana National Guard. The mortgage interest rate is 1% lower than market and assists eligible veterans purchase their first home and funds for the Program are provided from the principal of the Montana Coal Tax Trust Fund. 

Check out all we have to offer at HOUSING.MT.GOV.

Multifamily Program

Multifamily Program

The Montana Board of Housing has approved approximately $112,000,000 bonds for a combination of seven new construction and acquisition rehabilitation multifamily projects across Montana in 2020. These projects will result in 732 units of affordable housing units for Montanans.

Rental Assistance Program

Rental Assistance Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Deposit Assistance Program is available to new and existing HCV, HUD-VASH and Mainstream voucher holders. Each field agency has applications for this assistance. Past deposit balances and pet deposits are not eligible. This program is available utilizing CARES Act funds, therefore is time limited.

The Housing Choice Voucher Landlord Mitigation and Accessible modification fund is available for landlords who lease to HCV, HUD-VASH and Mainstream voucher families. The fund offers $500 to a landlord toward required move-in repairs/upgrades to meet HQS and up to $1,000 to a landlord for tenant accessibility modifications that are approved by the landlord on behalf of person with a disability. Additionally, a landlord may qualify for up to $750 in qualifying damages caused by a voucher family during tenancy that is not covered by the tenant’s deposit. Documentation is required. Field agencies have applications for these funds. This program is available utilizing CARES Act funds, therefore is time limited.

HUD statutory and regulatory waivers have been extended and are available on our website at:

PBS8 Programs

  • We are wrapping up the second round of COVID-19 Supplemental Payments (CSP) funds this week.
  • The PBS8 team has reassigned properties in order to minimize travel.
  • Staff is finalizing their schedules for the 2021 Management and Occupancy Reviews.

Emergency Housing Assistance Update

  • Montana was one of the first states in the nation to launch a Coronavirus Relief Fund housing assistance program, and was one of only 11 states providing emergency housing assistance to both renters and homeowners through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
  • Under the program, nearly 2,500 renters and homeowners received support.
  • A recent survey to program recipients elicited more than 700 responses in a weeks' time, with 88 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their interactions with staff through the application process and 93 percent of respondents reporting that the rental and mortgage assistance allowed their household to maintain or relocate to stable housing.

Industry Trends

How States Can Use TANF to Fund Rental Assistance and Prevent Evictions

Eleanor Noble and Jorge Morales-Burnett - Urban Institute

State and local governments can work across departments to assess which rental assistance programs TANF can support to scale up or expand. This can help existing programs adapt to the current crisis, share resources, and ensure consistency in marketing and public communication.

Montana was one of the first states to develop a new emergency rental assistance program for at-risk renters who lost income because of COVID-19. The state repurposed TANF funds marked for down payment loans for multifamily housing, instead offering one month of rent or security deposit assistance for low-income families for as long as they showed a need.

The state housing financing agency worked closely with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, which manages TANF, to identify best practices for assistance administration and ensure rental assistance efforts were not duplicated.

By tapping into TANF to offer emergency housing assistance, Montana was able to prioritize the most at-risk families before the state received any CARES Act funds. More

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