Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, thousands of Montanans have found themselves struggling to pay their rent and facing the possibility of eviction. MLSA has worked hard to help people access the services they need to avoid eviction – including legal information on how to access rental assistance and eviction moratoriums, and legal assistance in the form of advice and representation. MLSA also worked in partnership with the Montana Department of Commerce to develop the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, a new program that partners with private attorneys to provide legal advice and representation to individuals who have been served an eviction notice in a court of law.
This program has had a huge impact on low income Montanans struggling to stay in their homes. Since the project began in October 2020, MEIP has, to date, handled 349 eviction cases, helping 837 clients and their family members address their housing problems and avoid eviction.
MLSA’s eviction work has also been highlighted in the media. Read on to check out all the articles that have been written about Montana’s housing crisis and the work MLSA has been doing to address it.
- “Millions Of Dollars In Rental Assistance Still Available In Montana” – Montana Public Radio, published August 19, 2021.
From the article: The Commerce Department estimates up to 8,000 Montanans could be eligible and apply for rental assistance before the funding expires in September of next year. . . Amy Hall is a housing attorney with the Montana Legal Services Association, a nonprofit that provides information and advice for people dealing with civil court issues in Montana. She says tenants should take advantage of this money if they can’t pay rent. “They can apply for the state assistance, and hopefully the landlord will get paid through that program.”
- “New federal eviction moratorium protects renters in majority of Montana counties” – Flathead Beacon, published August 5, 2021.
From the article: The new eviction moratorium announced by the Biden Administration on Tuesday will protect the majority of renters in Montana counties “experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission” of COVID-19, according to the order. That means eligible renters in 39 of Montana’s 56 counties — and all of the state’s population centers — will be covered by the order, according to the Montana Legal Services Association, which partners with the state Department of Commerce to provide free legal services to tenants facing eviction.
- “While eviction concerns swirl, state, city officials say rental assistance is available” – Missoula Current, published August 4, 2021.
From the article: On Wednesday, Cheryl Cohen, executive director of Montana Housing at the Department of Commerce, joined Missoula housing advocates and the City Council to say funding is still available to help those facing eviction or utility shut-offs due to Covid-related issues. . . Cohen said the state also is working with Montana Legal Services on the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, where attorneys work pro-bono to serve households at risk of eviction due a Covid-related impact.
- “Montana tenants threatened by mobile home evictions this year more than ever” – KHQ Q6 News, published August 4, 2021.
From the article: Montana tenants are still feeling the weight of the pandemic after being threatened with more mobile-home park evictions than ever before. . . This year, Montana Legal Services Association has seen more applications for eviction help, and some tenants are saying it’s just becoming too much to handle.
- “Biden buys time with new eviction ban” – The Hill, published August 4, 2021.
From the article: Amy Hall, an attorney with the Montana Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides legal aid to low income renters, says her office has seen a significant jump in calls from tenants since the pandemic hit, and that increase is only “continuing” to climb. . . With the new CDC eviction moratorium slated to expire in two months, assuming it survives any legal challenges, Hall, with Montana Legal Services, said more needs to be done to boost awareness surrounding the rental aid. “We still need to get the word out. These programs are available and renters can get help,” she said.
- “Biden urges state and local leaders to postpone evictions while rental aid is distributed” – Daily Montanan, published August 2, 2021.
From the article: “We’ve heard from folks who have lost jobs or have had financial insecurity but were maybe on the verge” prior to the pandemic, said Rachel Turnbow, with the Montana Legal Services Association. “So the consequences of the pandemic have impacted them severely.”
- “Explainer: How Montana will use funds to limit evictions” – Associated Press, published July 30, 2021.
From the article: MLSA Attorney Amy Hall said a lack of available rental housing in the state’s major cities has people moving to other towns, sharing housing with family or friends or possibly leaving the state. “In Montana since COVID, rental prices have increased, and the number of vacancies has decreased,’ Hall said. ‘That’s a terrible combination, especially for renters with limited incomes or who lost work due to COVID.”
- “Utility work, possible redevelopment displaces Troy renters” – The Western News, published July 27, 2021.
From the article: The Western News reports that mobile home renters in Troy, MT are facing eviction because of the landlord’s utility work and redevelopment. With so few options for affordable housing in Lincoln County, families are left with few options. MLSA attorney Megan Dishong agrees: “Tenants don’t realize they are vulnerable. In 30 days they can be homeless.”
- “Mobile home park evictions put Montana tenants’ homes in jeopardy” – The Great Falls Tribune, published July 20, 2021. The Great Falls Tribune published a two part series on the perils and pitfalls of mobile home ownership in Montana. From the article: “Right now, rental housing, there’s just not anything available. Vacancy rates are lower than they’ve been for years,” said Amy Hall of the Montana Legal Services Association. “We are on the verge of a pretty huge housing crisis in this state for rental housing and homeownership, and I don’t see a good way for that to get resolved in a way that favors homeowners and tenants.” To read Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here.
- “Emergency rental and housing assistance available to Montanans” – News Talk KGVO, published July 19, 2021.
From the article: The Montana Department of Commerce recently announced that more than $10 million in rent and utility assistance has already been paid to support Montanans who have experienced hardships during the pandemic, and with many facing eviction, they say more support is available. Montana Housing Division Adminstrator Cheryl Cohen said, “Fortunately, we’ve been partnering with the Montana Legal Services Association on the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, So households that do have a COVID-related hardship can receive assistance, including legal assistance to help them maintain their housing.”