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Missoula leaders will pursue release of rental assistance money from state

JohnEngen2021Homeless.jpg
Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 10:18:07-04

MISSOULA — Recognizing higher rents could force more people into homelessness, Missoula leaders are promising to seek the release of millions in assistance funds from state officials.

The Missoula County commissioners and Missoula Mayor John Engen announced a new action plan on Tuesday to resolve growing problems with homelessness.

Much of those efforts are focused on finding alternative shelter locations to replace homeless camps and the associated health and crime problems. But at the same time, Engen and the commissioners say there's roughly $150 million from pandemic impact funds, which the state hasn't allocated to Montana cities.

They plan to press for the release of those dollars, which they say could provide assistance to help people with their rents.

"And for some reason, it ain't getting out the door. And that's either an access issue, it's a hassle issue, it's a communication issue. But our staff is working today on trying to sort that," promised Engen. "I've also got a meeting scheduled with property managers to ensure that they're aware that they're not at risk. That we can mitigate their risk and they can get out of the eviction business by simply helping us help their tenants stay where they are."

Wednesday, MTN News reported Governor Greg Gianforte and four advisory commissions will be deciding how to distribute some $1.6 billion in COVID relief funds, which may include as much as $200 million in housing assistance.