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.
“This partnership is to make sure Montana renters have access to free legal resources that can provide information, guidance and support so people can stay in their homes and not have to worry about possibly being evicted,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “The Montana Eviction Intervention Project will help financially stressed Montanans who are facing an eviction with free legal representation before or during an eviction proceeding.”
The COVID-19 public health emergency has more adversely affected people who normally live paycheck-to-paycheck and are suddenly out of work and struggle to pay for food or rent. Although there are some civil legal solutions available for struggling renters, they are often too complicated to navigate without support from legal or housing experts. For example, the current nationwide Centers for Disease Control eviction moratorium contains numerous complex legal requirements.
Through the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, MLSA will work with Justices of the Peace and Clerks for Limited Jurisdiction Courts across the state, as well as the Supreme Court's Office of the Court Administrator to develop a referral system for people who are representing themselves in an eviction and connect those people with an attorney to provide legal services.
"We are excited to be able to launch the Montana Eviction Intervention Project with the support of the Department of Commerce and the Governor's Office,” MLSA Executive Director Alison Paul said. “This project will provide valuable legal representation to Montanans struggling to get by in these difficult times. Through the project, the Montana Legal Services Association will help Montanans avoid illegal evictions, negotiate with landlords to obtain additional days to move out and plan an alternative home, connect with available social services, educate judges on the new eviction ban and avoid negative legal judgements for tenants. The goal of these services is to decrease the number of homeless Montanans during the coronavirus public health emergency "
The Montana Eviction Intervention Project is supported by a $70,000 grant provided by the Montana Department of Commerce using federal CARES Act funding. The program will continue to assist Montanans who are facing an eviction and need legal assistance until December 30, 2020. For more information visit MONTANALAWHELP.ORG or call 1.800.666.6899.
Montana renters who have lost income due to COVID-19 may be eligible for monthly rent assistance through the Emergency Housing Assistance program. The deadline to apply is Nov. 10, 2020. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.